The resurrection.

The question about the resurrection of Christ has to be one of the most significant and important questions one can ever ask. Within the framework of intellectual honesty; it cannot be dismissed with glib answers.

The Apostle Paul said that ‘Christians should be the most pitied people in the world if the resurrection never took place. ‘ They got stoned. Burnt at the stake. Fed to lions. Beheaded. Torn apart. What was the point of it all if the resurrection never happened…why would you go through such things for a lie.

Such was the life of those who saw Christ crucified, dead, buried and 3 days later raised to life again. Many have tried to discount the resurrection. Many will dismiss it with rhetorical glibness. But – those who honestly look into the matter will find, that its not such an easy historical fact to dismiss and have to conclude… Something happened here which is beyond all reasoning.

The question I ask you today…what consequences does the resurrection have for you.

 

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About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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32 Responses to The resurrection.

  1. coimbra123 says:

    The resurrection, fulfills all my hopes for I know that I am saved eternally. I know it because he (Jesus) lives now and I am in a living relationship with him. Not just theologically but experientially.

    • Craig Benno says:

      The experiential relationship of the Christian life cannot be ignored. It’s not just a set of beliefs framed around an ancient text; those ancient texts become experientially lived out in our experience.

      • So true, Craig – a dry set of beliefs disconnected from my everyday life and reality is no use to me, and I see the whole of those ancient texts pointing to something relational and real!

        On the resurrection… to me it means that the humble way of love is stronger than death; that our human system of “the strongest rules” is not the ultimate, and in spite of appearances, the meek really DO inherit the earth; It tells me that the glimmering hope in my heart for a better world and a better way is something real and eternal. It comes from God, and that reality is actually stronger than the broken one I struggle with every day. It tells me that Love really DOES win!! (Maybe this is an appropriate point to insert a sincere and heartfelt “Hallelulia!!”)

  2. tildeb says:

    I don’t dismiss it for glibness at all; I dismiss this notion very common among today’s rather simplistic evangelicals of a physical resurrection… for a couple of reasons, most notably a lack of evidence for this historical yet astounding claim but also because this belief I think denigrates a more sophisticated understanding of the important theological notion of a spiritual ascension that Paul wrote about.

    Dead physical bodies don’t reanimate for very sound chemical reasons, which is why the stories of Jesus after his death are in the form of visions and dreams and voices and light and so on. Flesh (I think would be obvious to anyone who wishes some consistency to maintain that heaven is beyond the physical) cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven as Paul points out again and again, and that should certainly include the physical body of Jesus. After all, no one can say anything about the lack of physical evidence to be a problem if the ascension believed in is a spiritual one.

    The resurrection encounters with gods, then, should be understood – as they were at the time of writing of the Gospels – to be a fairly common occurrence imbedded in the Roman and Greek cultures (and not a literal encounter specifically about a reanimated physical Jesus) and not with today’s argument that these encounters with the spirit of a ‘resurrected’ Jesus were so unusual to convince the disciples that their god was worth dying for. Paul writes in several letters about this spiritual ascension in regards to Jesus and I think we need to take his accounts in this regard to christianity much more seriously than today’s literalists who attempt to overlay the historical records such as they are with a preferred belief that stands contrary to the world as we know it to be… by making assumptions and assertions about a physical resurrection that simply do not bear up to honest historical scrutiny.

    • Tildeb, yours is an interesting take, and one I haven’t heard before… There are certainly some spiritual aspects to Jesus’ appearances post resurrection in the narratives (walking through walls, not being immediately recognised etc) and the ascension part – looks very spiritual even through my western evangelical eyes… but how do you reconcile the parts that seem so physical? The missing body, eating food, Thomas touching his hands etc… and was Lazarus’ resurrection also “just spiritual”? How do you see those aspects??

      • tildeb says:

        Well, Kerry, I view those stories as far less reliable not because I am saying that they didn’t happen but because there is no way for us know they did and much cause to think they didn’t. But making the resurrection meaningful I don’t think requires the physical, the literal, resurrection to have been an historical event… an event that takes place in this world at a specific place and time, which I think detracts significantly from the much larger message of living – like the Christ – in a way that moves us towards achieving a spiritual ascension after death. And this approach avoids all the problems of making claims that stand contrary to the way we know the world actually works, the kinds of claims that drive atheists like I am nuts.

        Be spiritual., Live spiritually. Demonstrate that living such a theology is both a personal as well as a social net benefit. I think achieving such a goal is enhanced by making the stories of the Christ a metaphorical guide on improving today the quality of one’s character through practicing such a belief. But by holding fast to claims that are at best highly dubious and insisting on the truthfulness of events that are contrary to what we know is true by calling them miracles, believers are making a mistake that exposes their faith to be equivalent to self-deception. And when believers make victims of people’s dignity and rights on the basis of such beliefs, then the faith project as a cult of life is doomed to being a cult of death.

      • Thanks for your reply Tildeb – thoughtful stuff. I do think that the accounts are reliable enough for us to assume that the writers believed Jesus had been physically resurrected (Lazarus, too), and although I guess you can surmise all kinds of things about what might have *actually* happened – I love that the story is telling me that the way of love is actually powerful enough to change my physical reality.

        I agree with you, though, that following Christ does not require a literal acceptance of these things, and that any use of faith that “makes victims of people’s dignity and rights” (which is the natural tendency for man-made religion of ANY label) is completely opposed to the way of love and freedom that is Christ.

        I’ve been reading a blog I think you’d like (the author is on very much the same page as you, I suspect) http://agod-sizedpuzzle.blogspot.com/

        You’re also very welcome to pop over to mine if you feel inclined (you too, Craig!!) I love exploring all this stuff, and interestingly, just in the middle of an overlapping discussion there… (hope that’s okay, Craig??)

      • Craig Benno says:

        I think that believing in the literal resurrection of Christ is THE central core of Christian faith. Yes, you can follow the way of Christ – like Ghandi did; but you can’t embrace / accept Christ – be a Christian without Christ.

        Your free to advertise your blog – you have some interesting discussions happening there.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Tildeb. Your reply is foolish. It gets back to the reliability of history. How will your future generations in 3 or 4 – 10 generations truly know you existed?

        Just because something happens outside of your realm of expectation, doesn’t mean it couldn’t or didn’t happen. The resurrection deserves a more deeper explanation then the glib rhetorical answer you have given, which then soothes your atheist leanings. Perhaps the reason it drives you nuts is because you cannot shake it, and its like a barb working its way deep within your soul, and deep down you know it to be true.

        Perhaps its time for you to actually examine the resurrection in more detail and understand why many experts in the field of history / law / scientific community believe it did happen.

      • tildeb says:

        What drives me nuts, Craig, are those who make truth claims about reality but arbitrate them not from evidence in reality but by the assertions and assumptions of faith-based beliefs. This is intellectually dishonest and contains a useless epistemology that produces an unsound, unreliable, inconsistent, untestable, unfalsifiable ontology. What this method of inquiry – whether into history or any other inquiry-based endeavor – produces is zero – ZERO – knowledge. never has, never will. Your repeated claims that the <iphysical resurrection is as sound an historical fact as any other proves my point. Exactly the same reasoning you are using will also establish the same historical usefulness (that is, zero) for the literal and physical resurrection of any story. But you too easily gloss over 1Cor 15:44 where Paul spends considerable time and effort prior to this explaining exactly what I am suggesting… that you so easily label as foolish and rhetorical to suit my atheistic discomfort and counter my deep suspicion that it is actually true. Good grief, Craig. Yet look how effortlessly you claim ‘experts’ in the scientific community back you up. The only thing these folk bring to the claim is worth just as much as your own: more faith-based belief.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Here is the rub. What do you call ‘faith based’ beliefs? If you saw something happen today that was so extraordinary that you declared it a miracle and outside of your world view – such as someone copping a torturous hiding and execution and then 3 days later saw them healed and walking about… how would you describe that event?

        Would you say it was fact. Would you say its a faith based experience. Or would you say…I see it, I don’t believe it, but its happened and its in front of me.. and so you tell someone that story. And that same story that you saw was written down. When does that story become “Faith Based” and therefore not historical? Even if it happened to you and you were there to see it.

      • tildeb says:

        I happen to respect the academic field of history and so I lend merit to the importance of the order in which these stories were written; the earliest will be the most accurate and the latest the most adorned. Because Paul predates the gospels and makes no mention of any kind of physical resurrection – and indeed carefully explains the importance of referring to the ascension as a spiritual one – then it surprises me not at all that with the passage of time, these stories to which you accredit such veracity grow and grow and grow with supernaturalism. I would expect this to happen if the stories were just that: stories. In addition, no god worthy of the name would make such pivotal event so poorly relayed, so poorly informed, so poorly done to cause such lasting ambiguity that only by faith do we accept the tall tale as literal. Paul didn’t take it literally but you think he was a fool for doing so! You think this literal physical resurrection that you have chosen to elevate as ‘true’ is THE central core of the faith, relegating in the immensity of your biblical expertise the writings of Paul to be contrary to what you believe in. That guy sure has some nerve to disagree so specifically with Craig! He must be a fool!

        That position I’ve enunciated on your behalf should be like a slap across your face for rationalizing what you want to believe in and not caring how you create so many casualties of people who actually built the faith you pretend to cherish. When it comes to substantiating the historical roots of christianity, I’m sorry to have to tell you that what Paul writes matters far more than what Craig wants to believe in. I put it to you that you DO NOT CARE about the actual historical case to be made for the resurrection; you care only about promoting what YOU believe is true about it even if it means casting aside Paul’s account for daring to be contrary to your own. Again, your arrogance knows no bounds fueled as it is not by what is true in reality but by your passion to honour your own beliefs regardless if they are true or not.

        I use the term ‘faith-based beliefs’ to differentiate between beliefs built on what’s true in reality and beliefs built on the presumption of faith. What you pretend is true is based not on reality but on your faith. You have the order exactly wrong so many of your claims are informed not by reality but by your beliefs, which are simply not trustworthy if the goal is to find out what’s true in reality.

      • Craig Benno says:

        There are so many holes in any theory that Paul taught a spiritual resurrection and not a physical one. Btw, there is evidence to suggest that the earliest fragment of Matthew is date AD52. However. Luke the author of Luke & Acts and also possibly the author of Hebrews, was the Apostles travelling companion. He was also most likely Paul’s scribe in various places.

        One cannot distance Luke’s gospel from what Paul taught, nor what Paul taught from what Luke taught. Also Paul clearly says that he went to the Apostles and had them check out what he was preaching.

        Paul said to the Corinthians which is a snap shot of Paul’s collective preaching.

        Co 15:1 Now I’m making known to you, brothers, the gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you accepted, on which you have taken your stand,
        1Co 15:2 and by which you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the message I proclaimed to you—unless, of course, your faith was worthless.
        1Co 15:3 For I passed on to you the most important points that I received: The Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
        1Co 15:4 he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive!—
        1Co 15:5 and he was seen by Cephas, and then by the Twelve.
        1Co 15:6 After that, he was seen by more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.
        1Co 15:7 Next he was seen by James, then by all the apostles,

        1

      • tildeb says:

        Keep going, Craig… you’re almost there!

        1 Cor 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

        1 Cor 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

        Bugger, eh?

      • Craig Benno says:

        You are making a classic mistake here Tildeb and one that should be beneath someone like yourself who says they like to investigate all the evidence in a scientific manner. In the passage you have quoted, Paul is talking about our resurrection into heaven and not our resurrection here on earth.

        Jesus was clearly resurrected here on earth in a physical body. Which was the same as the variety of others whom were raised from the dead in the Scriptures. Lazarus, the widows son. Its even possible that Paul himself was raised from the dead after he had been stoned. I wouldn’t state it as fact though, as the Scriptures just say the disciples gathered around him and he got up with them.

      • tildeb says:

        So you are saying that Jesus reanimated as well as ascended – presumably at some later moment of death? Was this two separate times, or was his spiritual/physical body bifurcated: his body and mind wander off this-a-way while his spirit and mind wondered off that-a-way?

        Wow. I didn’t know. This just keeps getting better and better! I wonder where that reanimated zombie body ended up and which part of his mind was where? Has he ever been recalled by himself to himself? Or does his physical body still wander the earth in search of…? Does his beard still grow? Does he like soccer? Can he get a sponsorship from some sandal company?

        You hold to the literal at the expense of your intellectual honesty which now undergoes mental gymnastics and epistemological contortions right up and including a denial of reality to remain ‘true’. The problem as I see it is that you equate what might be possible to be the equivalent of likely true. Is it possible that dead matter can reanimate without significant cellular damage? The honest answer is no, not because it isn’t possible but, because we have no evidence that it is remotely likely.

      • Craig Benno says:

        All over the world, every day resurrections take place. Clinically dead people are resuscitated. I would also like you to clarify as to what you mean by ‘spiritual’. The greek mindset of a dichotmony between the physical / spiritual wasn’t held by the Jew’s. They didn’t separate the physical from the spiritual, rather they allowed and accepted the two to co-exist as one.

        If the clinically dead are raised to life by mere humans, why do you struggle to believe that the resurrection of Christ is so unbelievable?

      • tildeb says:

        Clinical death is the medical term for cessation of blood circulation and breathing, the two necessary criteria to sustain life.

        Resuscitation is the method to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person.

        Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. The term is not used in medical circles to describe the return to life of one who was clinically dead for rather obvious reasons that seem to elude you in order for you to pretend that it somehow relates to actual situations today. It doesn’t. A three day old rotting corpse does not suddenly reanimate because the chemical interactions that destroy cells is not subject to physical recovery. That;’s the fact that reality dictates to us.

        Resuscitation only works because it intervenes and suspends this decay for a short time. But you already know this even though you are willing to bend what’s true once again to try to suit your beliefs. The clinically dead are not ‘raised’ to life. This is an intentional, deliberate, and purposeful misrepresentation… a condition well known to be popular among the evangelicals only when it suits their theology but discarded when it doesn’t… and known to the rest of us as ‘Lying for Jesus.’ Welcome to this club, Craig.

        I use the term ‘spiritual’ in these interchanges regarding Paul’s description as many believers do: having to do with the eternal life of the soul. I don’t for a minute believe it is real but rather suggest that such belief can help make religious claims – like the resurrection of Jesus – be much more innocuous than the religious truth claims made about reality that refuses to allow reality to arbitrate on its own behalf – like a three day old dead body suddenly reanimated. This kind of belief is simply gullibility raised to be pious and history is ripe with such claims. Most of us reject all of them, although some prefer to keep one allowable.

        This kind of literal faith-based belief makes a mockery of what we know to be consistently and reliably true about cellular decay. More importantly, it makes a mockery of the intellectual integrity of people who hold respect for our method of understanding the universe only when it is convenient and practical to do so (you mean cell phones work without enlisting the aid of spirits?) while ignoring this same method when it contravenes our preferred beliefs (that frozen waterfall convinces me of the immaculate conception). This intellectual cherry-picking of when and when not to trust in the method of honest inquiry is unnecessary for believers willing to approach scripture with an open and honest mind about meaning that fits with what we know about the universe rather than a literal comprehension here, and metaphorical comprehension there, to suit a sleight-of-hand sleight-of-mind faith without any means available to distinguish when we should which to identify bits in scripture.

        And this is an important point: there is no way a believer who does this cherry-picking can show a reliable method to differentiate a literal claim from a metaphorical one… but note how commonly believers jump between the two when reality interferes as if they had any informed means to do so. They don’t. They hold the talking snake to be a metaphor and Adam to be a real person, the god-sanctioned genocides to be a metaphor but the resurrection to be literal, the acceptance of slavery to be appropriate to the times but the admonishments against divorce to be timeless, and so on. And the exaples are legion. The cherry-picking establishes a rich and obvious hypocrisy and such literal beliefs are fertile grounds to exercise it. That’s not a theological strength but an obvious drawback to trusting the source as an authority.

        Such religious belief offers us not one iota of knowledge about the universe but impedes and interferes with its honest pursuit under the disguise of claiming a moral concern – as if such hypocrisy fueled by religious belief automatically sanctions a legitimate higher ground for moral considerations to bear weight and gravitas, pronouncements mired in Iron age superstition and it vastly ignorant claims about how the universe really works. And to criticize this assumption of a higher moral ground is to invite the charge of a proper lack of respect for those arrogant enough to presume to know the moral ramifications for this metaphor and that literal claim. One immediately faces the charge of militancy and stridency and ranting and so on. The actual question – why does hypocritical beliefs elevate one to position of moral authority – goes unanswered because it is too unpleasant for believers to actually consider the rather obvious answer: it doesn’t!

        The reason why we know anything about anything is in spite of religious interferences and contrary claims by means of personal revelations. The intellectual integrity of those who claim literal readings to be inspired by some god – but justified by the acceptance that it is true because of a personal revelation – but who don’t even have the awareness that holding to literal claims that we know are factually wrong, seem unaware that they relegate their god to be pretty ignorant about how the universe actually works. They do no service to finding compatibility between science and religion if they fail to appreciate why their religious faith-based beliefs revealed, it is to be believed without question, by personally inspired divine insights can make no legitimate claims about reality without standing contrary to and in conflict with the method of science we know works. In other words, literalists themselves directly harm the goal of making their faith a living faith and in their stubbornness to promote their literal beliefs above all other considerations of what’s true in reality demonstrate the intellectual death required to maintain it.

        This is not a point of pride but an admission of abject failure in all but words to use the very intellect god supposedly bestowed on us in order to discover him hiding wherever it is he like to hide.

  3. Hey, Craig!

    For me it’s ALL about Jesus. And if it comes down to a relationship WITH him, then he has to still be around, in some form – right? How you get your head around that, though – is between you and Him!! I believe he was exactly who he claimed to be, that he was bodily resurrected, and lives today. As you say, that is the core of Christian faith. But where do you draw the line on “who belongs”? If a relationship with God depends on correct belief, then probably I’m sunk – and so are you. The details of how you get there are a whole lot less important than engaging in relationship with the Living God.

    The story of the sheep and goats keeps coming back to me in this regard… the people who were welcomed in, didn’t even KNOW they had connected with Jesus. They had loved. That’s all. And I think, on an important level, it may really be that simple! I fully expect when I see him face to face, to find some surprised atheists there too. So many I speak to have discarded religion “because it gets in the way of love”. They may just be a whole lot closer to Jesus than they think!!

    I need to think this through further – it keeps coming up… and these are my thoughts as they stand right now; they are certain to develop and change. Still mulling and wondering about it all – so your take on it would be good to hear!

    • Craig Benno says:

      It’s a big question. I’m not convinced that we will find any surprised Atheists in heaven, for to be a Atheist you need to be militantly against Christ / God. However I could say that perhaps we will find an agnostic or two. There is also the issue of those who call Jesus Lord, Lord who will be surprised when he tells them.. I didn’t know you.

      Within the framework of the sheep and the goats, firstly remember that Jesus was talking about Israel being the sheep and the Gentiles as the goats. Within the Jewish mindset only Jews could be considered to be God’s people. Whereas in Christ, there is no distinction between age, nationality, gender and societal class. Within the framework of Christianity and within the framework of the OT love was always a combined upward, inward and outward directive.

      Can you explain more about what you mean by discarding religion for God?

      • Actually, I said “discarding religion for love” – but I think that’s the same thing! I have regular discussions with an online friend who is an atheist. He has been involved in religion, has studied various kinds of spirituality, and is now quite convinced that there is no need for “superstition” or a rule book, to live according to love. Strangely, that’s how I feel too!!

        On the other hand, I see an awful lot of damage done in the name of “Christian Love”. Mostly by people who I KNOW are soft hearted, well meaning folks – and who sincerely believe that the rules matter eternally!

        I think Jesus was anti-religious. It was always about having a real relationship with God – and religion tends to put massive roadblocks in the way of that.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Sorry about the typo, my bad.

        Certainly one doesn’t need religion to be able to love. The question to ask is what is the foundation of the ‘love’ and what sustains it. I don’t think Jesus was anti religious. Though that depends on what you mean by religious – caution is needed to ensure we are both speaking in the same terms.
        For instance some people will take hold of a form of spirituality, denounce all religions, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc and say they will just honour God in what ever way they want to. A lot of the New Age is founded on such, and call all spiritual experiences the ‘truth.’

        Whereas we do need to be careful that (Within a Christian context) Our basis of understanding Christ is one of historical understanding. The Gospels and NT were written by people who either saw and heard Jesus speak personally – or carefully looked into it and wrote about it. If we denounce those writings, then we are in danger of making up our own gods and making up our own christs.

        Rules and regulations are formed from people who have no idea how to read the ancient texts. Such as you have found recently and even believed in your own relationship experiences. However through my showing you what was really happening within the framework of that culture, I was able to expand the true meaning of those Scriptures. The meaning of the Scriptures haven’t changed, rather our understanding of what they are saying, did.

        In regards to relationship with God…Jesus clearly said..I am the way, the truth and the life, no one goes to the father except through me – we cannot distance ourselves from God and Christ if we truly believe this.

      • tildeb says:

        to be a Atheist you need to be militantly against Christ / God

        Really, Craig? Really? What you are stating is simply made up. For any other group to be considered militant requires some measure of armed combat. All an atheist has to do to earn such a distinction is dare to disagree with theists and show no respect for all the various made up god stuff. And look how easily you pretend to know stuff you cannot possibly know anything about: speaking on behalf of ‘Jesus Lord’ and telling an atheist in some supposed afterlife I didn’t know you. Your presumption knows no bounds and your theology assumes no boundaries to impede the most outlandish claims about reality. I find the arrogance astounding to dictate to reality what is true and the wrapping of it in the guise of love to be highly hypocritical. And yet you simply fail over and over to see why this presumption and easy labeling you do is such an unpleasant trait…

      • Craig Benno says:

        Why are you upset in my statement that Jesus would say to an Atheist that he didn’t know them?

      • tildeb says:

        Because you’re just making stuff up and pretending it’s true. For all you know Jesus would put his spiritual arm around me, offer me a drink and cigar, and ask me to leave all these believers behind come with him into the lounge reserved for the grown ups!

      • Craig Benno says:

        Your open to the possibility of Jesus accepting you into heaven?

      • tildeb says:

        I’m saying there is no possible way for you to know.

      • Craig Benno says:

        For me to have no possible way of knowing; you are admitting there is a possibility that you could also be accepted into heaven? Yes / No?

      • tildeb says:

        Again, Craig, there is no way to know. Is it possible? I don’t know and neither do you. The yes/no answer you want is a false dichotomy.

  4. Craig Benno says:

    Therefore you admit your position as an Atheist is truly untenable because you can’t know that your position is right.

    • tildeb says:

      Yes it’s just as untenable as your position as an atheist in regards to every single superstitious belief save one because you can’t know that all your atheisms are right. Yup, non belief in pixies running on an invisible wheel to make your car engine work is simply untenable because you can’t know that your non belief is right.

      There’s a fine, fine piece of thinking, Craig. But maybe – just maybe – there something wrong that equates non belief in entities for which there is no evidence – and militantly so! – to be untenable. I wonder what that could possibly be?

      I know, Craig, I know. Don’t think about it, whatever you do. It’s just too… confusing. Just stick to the script even if it is incoherent.

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