Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dualist and the Resurrection

I regularly read blogs that discuss the Sunday Bible Readings. My favourite of these is probably the Disclosing New Worlds blog. In the reflection from last week's Sunday readings (Luke 24:36-48) there is this gem:
The key question is whether this world and these bodies of ours have a future with God. It’s a question, therefore, about the meaning and content of salvation. Resurrection says that salvation is recreation - salvation for this world. God could have done at least two things differently. The first is to have abandoned us and our world because we rejected God. Resurrection tells us that God doesn’t do that - even when we have resisted God’s companionship to the point of murdering God’s Son! The second is to abandon creation but not human beings. In this case, salvation would be escape or rescue from the world. God could say, “You are not your bodies. The ‘real you’ is non-material. And this world isn’t ultimately ‘real’ - ultimate reality is another place altogether, called heaven. So let me rescue you from all this mess of creation (bodies, earth etc)”. God, in other words, could be a dualist.

But resurrection is anti-dualist. God isn’t a Hindu, or Buddhist, or classical Greek deity. The Hebrew and Christian God is a God who is inextricably linked to creation by love and a determination to save what has been created. Matter matters! Bodies matter! God embraces body in Jesus (Incarnation) and enters into our world. God becomes part of our world. And God does so in order to save it by transforming it into all that it was always intended to be. (source)

Yes, yes! Matter matters! I can't tell you how often I've preached this point. Yet the latent gnosticism of our culture (or perhaps gnosticism in inherit in some way--an aspect of original sin/existential guilt?) still tries to emerge! Sigh.

I remember eating lunch with Marilyn Adams (hard-core philosopher and theologian) in seminary many years ago and someone asked her about the meaning of bodily resurrection. She replied that she thought this was a teaching about how our distinctness from each other will be preserved in our resurrected state. In other words, our experience autonomy or separateness will have continuity between this world and next. Whereas other things, like the limitations of death or disease, will not have continuity. This is a very powerful teaching that generally doesn't get sufficient press.


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