Friday, August 29, 2014

Ghosts of End Times Future, Part 3: Resurrection

From the July 2011 E-Block.
Our examination of hyperpreterist variations continues with a look at a few more arguments concerning the "death" of Adam and Eve, and then will segue into some more material on resurrection. 

Adam and Eve were told that, "In the day you eat you will die." They obviously ate the fruit in a given 24 hour period of time, so their death must also have been that same day.
This is a naive approach to Scripture which fails to grasp that "day" is manifestly used of periods that did not take only 24 hours. (For example, Genesis 2:4 uses “in the day” to compress 7 full days of creation.) Whether a 24 hour "day" or a "day" in a broader sense is meant must be decided by contextual considerations, and here, one must limit "death" to only one aspect of its broader concept in religious contexts (including the Bible) in order to force into the text of Genesis an event that took place in single day. 

Hyperpreterists use this argument to suggest that there is no idea of physical death indicated at all. It is amazing that one can ignore the clear message that physical death is indeed one aspect of the situation, as is indicated by the gradually declining lifespans after the fall, as well as by the many passages which speak of the weakness of the flesh. Is it really sensible, moreover, to suppose that when Paul said death would be defeated, he meant to exclude the death of the body? Isn't it rather odd that the very word used for physical death is read to exclude it? If the Jews did not think death would be defeated by physical resurrection, how do we explain their burial rites which tried so hard to keep the bones together? These are just three of many puzzles the hyperpreterist view creates, and they must inevitably create out of whole cloth a creative “Colombian drug lords did it” explanation for each such puzzle – which, as we shall see, they do not hesitate to do. 

The restoration promises made in the NT are assuredly mostly of a spiritual nature. However, these spiritual promises in no way indicate a mutual exclusivity of a physical restoration component as well. 

Jesus indicated that Abraham longed to see his day (John 8:56). Why would this be so if Jesus did not crush Satan's head and bring to realization the new heaven and earth?

This is a peculiar argument, for it implicitly assumes that nothing in Jesus' day would have been anything Abraham would have longed to see. Was there nothing at the time that Abraham would have longed to see? What about the enthronement of Jesus as Son of Man? What about the inauguration of the new covenant through his descendants (something which Abraham would have seen as accruing enormous prestige and honor to himself and his family)?

Jesus refuted the idea of physical resurrection when he answered the Sadducees' dilemma by saying that the patriarchs were in paradise, and that men would subsist in the form of angels.

The first point is a non sequitur and requires no further answer. The second is not honest; Jesus says nothing of the "form" of persons in the resurrection, but merely declares concerning the covenant of marriage. Since all will be the "bride of Christ," there can be no other marriage covenants in heaven. (I do think covenants made in this life will be somehow honored, but that is another issue.)

Paul rejected physical resurrection when he said, “And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be.” (1 Cor. 15:37) He's saying that thee body that is buried is not the body that rises.

That is so, because the resurrection body is such a radically new thing that it is definitely not the body that was "sown". Not surprisingly, hyperpreterists use some of the same arguments as do Skeptics in this regard (links below).

Just because Paul called Jesus the “first fruits” of our resurrection does not mean our resurrection will be physical as well.

Yes, actually, it does. This is a peculiar fancy of the hyperpreterist. They agree that Jesus' resurrection was physical, but think ours will not be! But the "first fruits" language can indicate little else, for it is of a piece with the collectivist notion of Jesus as the ideal and exemplary head of the body of Christ.

The significance of Christ’s resurrection was his power over hades, not the physical grave. In Rev. 1:18, Jesus said: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Jesus did not say he has the keys of the physical grave, but of hell.

This is yet another example of forcing a mutual exclusivity where none exists. Yes, Christ's power over hell is significant; no, this does not exclude power over physical death. Physical death and decay was representative of the power of hell influencing creation, and once again, the hyperpreterist must casually ignore this as though physical death, and its attendant prior decay and sufferings, were of no moment to humans or to God.

Similarly, it may be argued that the sole purpose of Jesus' Resurrection was "evidentiary." This is again a forced mutual exclusivity: The Resurrection was indeed for the sake of evidence, but this does not exclude it also being a model for our fate. It also misses the point that the Resurrection served to restore Jesus' honor after crucifixion -- and by the same token, our own honor will not be restored if our body remains rotting in the grave.

Hyperpreterist desperation on this point is such that it will even be admitted that the saints in Matthew 27 were also raised physically -- but that this too was just for "evidentiary" purposes, and that because Matthew does specify that their bodies arose, this is a subtle indication that if this were a normal resurrection, they would not have had a bodily resurrection! Such tendentious gerrymandering of the text speaks for itself.

Hebrews refers to Jesus “in the days of his flesh." This shows that he is no longer in the flesh and thus that believers aspire to a similar spiritual form as he has now.

Really? By this same logic, we will get a physical resurrection body we will later shed. And the Mormons are right that we all started as spirit beings (since Jesus did too).

Proponents of physical resurrection argue for the resurrection of the flesh because they believe our eternal reward is in the material realm upon a new earth.

Perhaps some do, but there is no necessary cause-effect link between these two elements. One need not see Earth as our final home; there's a whole physical universe out there to revamp, and if we wish to be technical, inheriting the "kingdom of heaven" refers to an ideology, not a place (Link below.) It is also hardly necessary to see the material Earth as our sole residence at that time.

We now turn to how hyperpreterists dispense with passages that teach bodily resurrection. Mostly, they resort to contrivances such as physical resurrection being a figure for some spiritual reality, an argument we considered in a prior entry in this series. Or they may resort to exceptional strains such as this:

John 5:28-9: Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

No physical bodies are mentioned in this text. All Jesus says is that those in the graves will come forth. They will, but they'll come forth in spirit and go to heaven.

The machinations here are simply outrageous, and too obvious to warrant more comment than this: Graves contain bodies. If bodies are not in mind here, then the reference to "graves" is superfluous, and also (too conveniently) accords with the language of physical resurrection.

So likewise: Rom. 8:11's reference to the "quickening of our mortal bodies" is explained away as "the regenerative effects of God’s spirit in man." Phil. 3:21's promise of a " change" to our "vile body" is massaged into a reference to "the collective body of Jews and Gentiles waiting for the redemption and adoption of the church." 1 Thess. 4:16 is waved off because it does not mention physical bodies. Everywhere resurrection is found, any excuse possible is contrived to avoid the interpretation that is most natural as well as most in tune with what we know of Jewish eschatology.

Next, let's have a look at passages used by hyperpreterists to negate the idea of physical resurrection. These are what few are offered apart from standard passages covered in links below.

2 Cor. 5:6-8 says, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:..." If we are reunited with the body, we will be at home in the body and absent from the Lord!

This is actually typical of a number of hyperpreterist machinations which fail to perceive any difference between the body we now inhabit and the glorified resurrection body. Indeed, this interpretation is of a piece with numerous others that treat the resurrection body as equal to the "flesh" referred to in other passages as weak. In that regard, hyperpreterists ignore the connotations of "flesh" as referring to the weak, mortal human condition (see link below).

Hebrews 12:23 refers to "the spirits of just men made perfect.” Why would they need resurrection bodies if they're perfect?

Their spirits are perfect; however, to become human, they would be required to possess a body as well (in line with Semitic Totality; link below).

We will have one final installment in this series – for now – next issue.

The nature of the resurrection body -- though geared mostly to atheist objections, hyperpreterists use some of the same arguments.
The Kingdom of God
Semitic Totality

1 comment:

  1. Full Preterists are strange. On the Reign of Christ site, there was one in the comments section of this one entry denying that Jesus will return physically, even after someone told him about the scripture in Acts:

    Resolution on Full Preterism

    About the resurrection body, though: I believe that Jesus raised physically (the empty tomb is the first big reason why). However, in my opinion, he had to so that there would be no doubt that he rose. With us, God can give us a spiritual body without having anything to do with our old flesh man.