The Resurrection of Life
We have been having a conversation off and on here about the resurrection of the body. As I've noted before I'm uncomfortable jettisoning a bodily resurrection. I realize that there are scientific questions that are problematic, but I don't think that its the science that's the problem. I think its the physicality that is the issue. Christian theology has from the beginning placed an emphasis on embodiedness. That's why the Eucharist became so central to the Christian faith -- it was a witness against the Gnostic desire to free the soul from the body. I think that there is an incipient gnosticism that underlies the popularity of metaphorical interpretations of the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus' appearances were nothing more than visions or dreams, then we don't have to deal with an embodied state.
In earlier posts I've talked about N.T. Wright's views, but Wright is probably more conservative than am I. Bruce Epperly gave a progressive theological argument for an embodied resurrection -- but Bruce is probably to my left. Standing in between these two positions, both of which embrace embodied resurrection, is Jurgen Moltmann.
I am in the midst of reading Moltmann's latest book, Sun of Righteousness, Arise! (I will be publishing an online review of the book with Englewood Review of Books), and Moltmann explores the resurrection in several chapters. Regarding the resurrection, he notes his preference for the phrase "resurrection of life," rather than "resurrection of the dead, the body, or the flesh." These are the typical terms used, but he finds them less helpful than "resurrection of life." What does he mean by this? Let me offer this quotation for you to consider and respond to.
By the living, lived body we do not mean the desouled body as an object, as a set of scientifically objectified organs and the medical treatment of them; we mean the experienced and lived body with which I am subjectively identical: I am body -- this body is I myself, this is my body gestalt or configuration, and my life history. Life in this sense means the life that is lived, not unlived, the life that is affirmed, not denied, the life that is loved and accepted. Real life is the bodiliness which I am: unlived life is alienated bodiliness which I have. (pp. 60-61).
He goes on to consider what it would mean if we were to confess the "resurrection of lived life." If we were to make this confession, then we could accept that dying is "part of life," as well as "believe in the victory of life over death." Yes, then "we can then affirm that eternal life will be lived in the transfigured body" (p. 61).
So, what is it about the resurrection of the body that gets everyone so upset, and does Moltmann offer us a way forward?