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Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter: How Can We Forget the Physical, Tangible Reality of Christ's Resurrection?

Easter greetings! What a wonderful time to contemplate the reality, the shear physical, tangible reality of Christ's Resurrection. Ponder what it means not just that the tomb was empty, which is where much of Christianity seems to stop, but that the body of Christ was once again alive, now glorious and immortal, but so real and tangible that it could not just be seen, but be handled, and could not just speak words, but chew and swallow food.

Was Christ trying to deceive or rather, to teach a powerful lesson, when he appeared to His disciples in Luke 24 and allowed them to see and touch Him, and then watch Him eat? Here is an excerpt from that marvelous chapter of scripture with so many lessons for us:
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Some will say that our worship of this physically real Jesus, with a tangible body of flesh and bone and not spirit only, in Whose image man was created, and Who is the express image of His equally real Father in heaven, makes us non-Christian, for that real and living Resurrected Jesus whom we worship, lacks the metaphysical attributes required by the Neoplatonic philosophers who gave us the official creeds of the 4th and 5th centuries. If that means we worship a different Jesus--and that's exactly what it means to some of our most vocal critics who put the traditions of the creeds ahead of the living Word of revelation from God--then so be it, for the Jesus whom we worship is the Jesus of the Bible, and we invite all men everywhere to follow Him, to repent of their sins, and be baptized in His name to enter into a covenant of joy.

Though we differ in our understanding of the Resurrection and in the nature of Jesus, rejecting some portions of the creeds of philosophers, we do not deny the Christianity of others who believe in Jesus, however wrong they may be about their understanding of Him and His Resurrection. But we encourage them to learn the truth, to learn more, and to add a greater fullness to the precious truths they may already have. Come and learn of Him, be baptized in His name, and receive the priceless gift of the Holy Ghost by those who are divinely authorized to do so in His church.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reading your post reminded me of this wonderful poem by John Updike: Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

—John Updike, “Seven Stanzas At Easter,” 1964

Anonymous said...

Which portions of which creeds do you reject?

Bookslinger said...

The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed can be "nuanced" into compliance with LDS Doctrine, but not as they are generally interpreted by mainstream Christianity.

The one that is total goobledy-gook to me is the Athanasian Creed, which is kind of self-contradictory. That's the main one that I would have to agree is an abomination. It's as if the authors of that creed tried to cover all the bases and please everyone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bookslinger. I would like to know Mormanity's answer as well, since he made the statement in his post. As far as I can tell, aside from professing faith in the "catholic church," just about everything in the creeds can be harmonized with Mormon beliefs. Some of the credal statements actually occur in the Book of Mormon but not in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, please forgive me for recasting your title, in light of my own experience, as Passover: How Can We Forget the Physical, Tangible Reality of God's Mass Baby-Murder?

Having grown up Jewish, for me it was always about Passover rather than Easter (a holiday named after a pagan goddess, FWIW).

When it comes to Passover, what we should try never to forget is the terrifying evil of God, as related in Exodus 12:29:

And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon....

The mass killing of children is immoral. Ergo, the God of the Bible is immoral. Ergo, stop worshiping the God of the Bible. I did it, and so can you.

It's that simple, people.

-- Eveningsun

Jeff Lindsay: said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Lindsay: said...

As for the creeds, most of the content is fine. The Athanasian creed is one of the problem spots, though. The Westminster Confession ("a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions") also riles me.

The biggest problems are the statements inferring that there is one Being of one substance, which is used to rule out Mormons as part of "historic Christianity" because we see the oneness of God not as oneness of Being and "substance" but oneness of heart, mind, purpose, etc.

Bookslinger said...

I've always thought that the "one substance" could mean the same type of substance , that is two instances of like substance, not one instance. So just like humans are made of the same substance, organic matter, the Father and the Son are made of the same spirit (and physical) substance.

Somewhere on the net, there is an analysis of the original Latin of the creeds which supports this interpretation.

One of the evidences of the hypocrisy of anti-mormons on the issue of the metaphysical makeup of the Trinity is that mainstream Christians affirm that the exact nature of the makeup of God is a mystery. So when their best answer is essentially "we don't know", it's hypocritical of them to say our beliefs on the matter are so wrong that it makes us non-christian.

Bookslinger said...

Other Christian apologists (non-lds) have already done plenty of analysis of the apparent conflict of God causing children to die in the Old Testament stoies of the Flood and the 10 plagues of Egypt. Those questions have already been answered. Just google it.

Bookslinger said...

I've always thought that the "one substance" coruld mean the same type of substance , that is two instances of like substance, not one instance. So just like humans are made of the same substance, organic matter, the Father and the Son are made of the same spirit (and physical) substance.

Somewhere on the net, there is an analysis of the original Latin of the creeds which supports this interpretation.

One of the evidences of the hypocrisy of anti-mormons on the issue of the metaphysical makeup of the Trinity is that mainstream Christians affirm that the exact nature of the makeup of God is a mystery. So when their best answer is essentially "we don't know", it's hypocritical of them to say our beliefs on the matter are so wrong that it makes us non-christian.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

EveningSun, I think that is not a very appropriate nor especially respectful comment. An Easter Sunday post about the Resurrection, is not an excuse to dump unrelated arguments against God. Off-topic comments are discouraged, FYI.

From my perspective, your point is sort of like saying that since the God of the Bible does not do things the way you would if you were God, He must not exist. Yes, that's simple and direct, but like many simple analyses made in any field from physics to biology to history to theology, it can leave a world of important detail behind that leads to errant conclusions.

Every person born in this world will die. If we want to be simple, we can go one step further and say that it's terrible that anyone should die, and that a single death, being disagreeable to you, is proof that God does not exist--ignoring important details such as the miracle of life being evidence of God, and the possibilities that maybe a brief sojourn in mortality is part of a bigger process in which the real tragedy is not death but sin.

God allowing or causing any of us to die at any time is His right and not ours to judge and condemn. The details that add meaning to it all are the gift of immortality, the justice of God that will ensure all have a chance to receive the blessings of the Gospel, and the infinite power of the Atonement of Christ.

Yes, the event you criticize is troubling and leaves some questions unanswered. There are dozens of things of that nature. But my lack of understanding in those areas cannot discount what I have experienced in finding the reality of God and His love.

Yes, it's tragic that there were people who passed away early, if the record we have of the Exodus is correct. But life and death are for God to determine. Every death can be called a murder by God if you want to be cynical and miss what a miracle His gift of mortal life us in the first place. It's natural but also rather preposterous for us to condemn Him because He doesn't do things the way we prefer. But don't fall into that trap of arrogance.

God exists. He created us. He's smarter than us. It's that simple.

We can't expect to understand all the details in what happens, but we can find Him and know of His goodness, regardless of how painful we find this mortal journey at times.

Kadmon said...

Jeff,

You seem to allow for the possibility that the record of Exodus may not be all factual. If you don't know that it's factual, why defend it? Your defense of the slaying of the firstborn reminds me of how some Christians defend the idea that God predestinates some people to Hell. Their argument usually goes something like "Who are you to tell God what to do?" They use moral reasoning to support claims about God when it suits them, but when it doesn't, they claim that applying moral standards to God is illegitimate.

Mormon tells Moroni that people who believe that God would arbitrarily condemn some children to Hell because they weren't baptized are themselves sinners for what they choose to believe about God. I submit that the same argument applies here as well. People who choose to believe that God would kill the innocent firstborn children of the Egyptians are sacrificing their own moral sensibility for religious ideology.

Bookslinger said...

my comments seem to go into limbo, so if they all appear all at once, forgive me.

Kadmon, Eve Sun:

Christian apologists have long put forth many responses/defenses to God killing the children in Noah's flood and the firstborn of Egypt.

Go Google it. There are plenty of very well-reasoned answers from non-LDS. LDS don't have to carry all the water on that one.

Plus, if you know LDS theology as well as you pretend to, you'd know that the LDS can throw even more positive-outcome possibilities into the mix, beyond what non-LDS christian apologists have already offered.

Such as 1) God guaranteeing them exaltation, and 2) God working out possible deals with them in the PRE-mortal existence, in which some pre-born spirits are given the option to have short mortal lives in return for a quick trip back to heaven and the Celestial Kingdom. So... maybe they even volunteered for it. We don't know.

One big flaw in your reasoning is thinking that a short mortal life is /necessarily/ a bad thing in the overall scheme of eternity.

Kadmon said...

@Bookslinger

"Go Google it."

Touche.

"One big flaw in your reasoning is thinking that a short mortal life is /necessarily/ a bad thing in the overall scheme of eternity."

No, our reasoning is based on the immorality of murder.

"So... maybe they even volunteered for it."

That's a flimsy defense. If a person volunteers to be murdered, the murderer is not absolved.

I could pose the same questions to you as to Jeff: if you don't know that it happened, why do you defend it? Why do LDS have to carry any of the water on this one?

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of very well-reasoned answers...

No there aren't. On Google I found only "answers" that were at best poorly reasoned.

If he wants to, Jeff can go ahead and believe that "God allowing or causing any of us to die at any time is His right and not ours to judge and condemn." I know the drill: Whatever God wills is right; morality is obedience to the commands of God. Of course, since "the will of God" is something known to us only through human-authored texts whose authority we choose to accept or not on the basis of our own feelings (which are grandiosely styled as "promptings of the Holy Spirit") it really boils down to this: "Morality is obedience to my own feelings." It's the ultimate in moral subjectivism.

Me, I'm with Abraham, who in one of the most stirring of all Bible stories said to God, "Should not the judge of all the earth do right?"

-- Eveningsun

Darren said...

Good Easter message, Jeff.

Jesus had a tangible physical body and if you see Him you see the Father. Thusd the Father has...

Quaint. :>)

Darren said...

Bookslinger;

"The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed can be "nuanced" into compliance with LDS Doctrine, but not as they are generally interpreted by mainstream Christianity."

I find your assessment 100% correct. Remove "sam substance" and 'Trinity" and you have essentially a concept right along the lines ofthe LDS view of the Godhead. "Trinity", "same substance", and "immaterial" are nowhere to be found in the Bible and thus they came from elsewhere yet as Jeff pointed out, many Christians place the creeds before the doctrines. I regularly reun across folks who say Mormons are not Christian because they do not believe in the Holy Trinity.

Quaint. :>)

Darren said...

Eveningsun;

"a holiday named after a pagan goddess, FWIW"

As for the meaning of Easter celebrating the resurrection of Christ, it means absolutely nothing. It does mean a lot however against your cause.

You cite the Passover as a reasonto reject God completely. It was a pagan worshipper who brought down the curse upon the children, not God. Gos only fulfilled His promise that whatsoever condemnation Pharoah placed upon the Hebrews would instead be wrought upon him and his people. And who was it that decided to kill all male babies? That would be Pharaoh the Pagan; not a Hebrew or a Christian. You should be grateful that Christians "hijack" (as I like to term it) pagan celebrations. Thate world's a better and safer place because of it.

Second, there is so much irony in your statement of rejecting God because of the Passover. The first irony is your declaration of God being immoral. Huh? Where does immorality originate but by God? Somewhere down the line your specific concept of immorality hasa lot to do with God revealed word to man and through ancient Hebrew prophets nonetheless.

The other irony is that because you find God immoral by accusing Him of killing babies you openly and blatantly advocate atheism. How has atheism worked for the world?

HERE is an estimation of two genicidal murderers in world history: Mao ans Stalin. Mao's estimation is from 49-78 million while Stalin is estimated at around 23 million. The number of babies killed during the Passover is utterly dwarfed in comparison to these mere two atheists and the atheistic society they forged.

"Me, I'm with Abraham"

You do not even come close to aligning with Abraham, sir.

Anonymous said...

"Gos only fulfilled His promise that whatsoever condemnation Pharoah placed upon the Hebrews would instead be wrought upon him and his people. And who was it that decided to kill all male babies? That would be Pharaoh the Pagan;"

According to the Bible, a different Pharaoh more than 80 years earlier had male Hebrew children killed. The Pharaoh that Moses disputed with did not. You seem to be thinking of the story as portrayed in the movie "The Ten Commandments."

Darren said...

Anomynous;

According to the Bible, a different Pharaoh more than 80 years earlier had male Hebrew children killed. The Pharaoh that Moses disputed with did not. You seem to be thinking of the story as portrayed in the movie "The Ten Commandments."

By golly, I think you're right. Yes, you are correct in that the movie incorrectly portrayed Pharaoh Moses contended with with that of the scripture account but I do agree with the movie's interpretation of why God killed the firstborn of Egypt. Here's what happened at the time Moses was born:

At the end of the biblical book of Genesis, Joseph brings his family to Egypt. Over the following centuries, the descendants of Joseph’s family (the Hebrews) become so numerous that when a new king comes to power he fears what might happen if the Hebrews decide to rise against the Egyptians. He decides that the best way to avoid this situation is to enslave them (Exodus 1). According to tradition, these enslaved Hebrews are the ancestors of modern day Jews.

Despite pharaoh’s attempt to subdue the Hebrews they continue to have many children. As their numbers grow, pharaoh comes up with another plan: he will send soldiers to kill all newborn male babies who were born to Hebrew mothers. This is where the story of Moses begins.


(snip)

In order to save Moses from the grisly fate pharaoh has decreed, his mother and sister put him in a basket and set it afloat on the river. Their hope is that the basket will float to safety and whomever finds the baby will adopt him as their own. His sister, Miriam, follows along as the basket floats away. Eventually it is discovered by none other than pharaoh’s daughter. She saves Moses and raises him as her own, so that a Hebrew child is raised as a prince of Egypt.

(snip)

Soon afterward, Moses returns to Egypt and demands that pharaoh release the Hebrews from bondage. Pharaoh refuses and as a result God sends ten plagues upon Egypt:

1. Blood – The waters of Egypt are turned to blood. All the fish die and water becomes unusable.
2. Frogs – Hordes of frogs swarm the land of Egypt.
3. Gnats or Lice – Masses of gnats or lice invade Egyptian homes and plague the Egyptian people.
4. Wild Animals – Wild animals invade Egyptian homes and lands, causing destruction and wrecking havoc.
5. Pestilence – Egyptian livestock is struck down with disease.
6. Boils – The Egyptian people are plagued by painful boils that cover their bodies.
7. Hail – Severe weather destroys Egyptian crops and beats down upon them.
8. Locusts – Locusts swarm Egypt and eat any remaining crops and food.
9. Darkness – Darkness covers the land of Egypt for three days.
10. Death of the Firstborn – The firstborn of every Egyptian family is killed. Even the firstborn of Egyptian animals die.


See HERE

While the scriptures do not say the latter Pharaoh sentenced Hebrew children to death, it was still the Pagan Pharaoh who initiated the death sentence of children. His condemnation wrought upon his own condemnation in a future time. In that sense the movie got it right despite the not so correct historical placement. The lord has said He would bring vengeance upon future generations for the wickedness of His children.

18 The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

Numbers 14:18

jackg said...

I enjoyed the post, Jeff. The only exception I take is your comment about Christians being wrong about Jesus and the resurrection. As you know, Christians can throw their own accusations about Mormons being wrong. I'm not here to get into a debate about who is really wrong or right; I just wanted to point that out to you.

I also want to commend you for the respectful manner in which you responded to EveningSun. You did a great job of apologetics on the subject.

Peace and blessings to you...