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Showing posts from April, 2017

The meaning of resurrection

In my previous Ethical Musings’ post, “Holy Week and Theology lite,” I explained why resurrection without death is incomprehensible. At best, resurrection without death becomes a form of self-help teaching. So, given that all are dying or dead, what is resurrection? My answer to that question begins by recognizing two definitions that are inapplicable to resurrection. First, resurrection differs from resuscitation. Resuscitation restores a person to this physical life. The experience may or may not change the individual. In any case, the resuscitated person remains mortal and will die another physical death. The biblical account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, found in John’s gospel, when read literally describes resuscitation rather than resurrection. Simplistic, literal readings of Jesus physically rising from the dead similarly are often closer to resuscitation than resurrection. Second, resurrection requires external intervention. Nobody has the power to resurrect him or …

Not so steady at the helm

Chaos can be creative. The existence of chaos at the sub-atomic level of the cosmos introduces both novelty and the possibility for beings to have limited autonomy. Novelty and limited autonomy are two important elements of the human spirit as well as two of the ways in which the human spirit emulates the Creator’s spirit. Furthermore, the Creator’s own limited autonomy and capacity for introducing novelty help to explain why the cosmos continues its dynamic evolution However, chaos can be destructive. Human beings generally function on the basis of patterns, presuming consistency rather than chaos. For example, voters desire consistency in their elected officials. With consistency, a voter reasonably expects the elected officer holder to support policies advocated during her or his election. Similarly, in an uncertain world with continuing threats from terrorists, nuclear armed powers, and aspiring economic competitors consistency allows both friends and enemies to have a high degre…

Holy Week and Theology lite

On Palm Sunday, a friend reported that the rector of his parish had preached a sermon, which my friend partially summarized in these words: He said he had a meeting with a Roman Catholic friend who told him she always felt guilty during Holy Week since she had been taught that it was ‘her’ sins which were the reason that Jesus had died. The Rector said he was a post-Resurrection person who only found joy in Holy Week. It would appear that the Old Testament and theological matters of salvation, atonement, sanctification, etc., do not bother the Rector too much. Apparently spreading the Good News is all that matters in the post-Resurrection church. Resurrection without death is impossible. Regardless of how a person understands resurrection and death – literally, metaphorically, or mythically – that which is not dead cannot be brought to life. I agree with what my friend’s summary of his rector’s sermon implies, that is, orthodox Christian theories of the atonement are at best incompre…