What do you really think about the resurrection of Jesus?

Why do you think so?

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I think the resurrection is real. An orthodox Jewish scholar once studied it and concluded that Jesus' followers would have never gotten it together to start a movement if the resurrection wasn't real. I think that is true.

As in the case of most important ideas, there is more than one truth here. Paul notes that we must die to ourselves in order to be born again as a new creation. There is a pattern here.

And of course this follows the natural order, which involves a lot of death and rebirth.

I think the following passage from Penington shows the seventeenth-century Quaker acceptance of the historic event of the crucifixion and resurrection, while also emphasizing the significance of the inward work of Christ in bringing one into knowledge of and union with him. Penington addresses a Puritan challenger:

That charge of thine on us, that we deny the person of Christ, and make him nothing but a light or notion, a principle in the heart of man, is very unjust and untrue; for we own that appearance of him in his body of flesh, his sufferings and death, and his sitting at the Father's right hand in glory: but then we affirm, that there is no true knowledge of him, or union with him, but in the seed or principle of his life in the heart, and that therein he appears, subdues sin, and reigns over it, in those that understand and submit to the teaching and government of his Spirit (Quaker Spirituality, p. 144). 

Fox speaks of Friends as being "witnesses to this Jesus and his resurrection" (Works 5:86-7), thereby emphasizing, as does Penington, the inwardly experienced resurrection, rather than the historic one that occurred 16 centuries before, which would've been impossible for them to have witnessed. So, Quakers didn't deny the outward history, they simply focused on the risen Christ within.

 

 

 

 

I'm not sure why I started this discussion... or whether it was entirely "my" idea.

I remember someone at Pendle Hill, around Easter, suddenly being shocked by the realization: "What if he really was raised up from death?"

I (and no doubt many others here) know from (concrete) personal experiences that God can and does do miraculous things. If there can be small miracles there can be larger ones... and yet this whole event (whatever it "looked like") goes radically against the conventional common sense judgement of what is "possible" and what is not.

I agree that the history of Christianity is inexplicable on any other basis -- Certain people were powerfully, convincingly shown that Jesus, after being as thoroughly killed as the authorities could possibly do, was still alive, conscious, participating in the movement he'd started.

And that he also was done with that mission. "Nevertheless it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I did not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." As I read this, I am certain that there has never been, and can never possibly be, a living person without the Spirit in him -- but what I think this is saying, is that people were almost entirely looking to that Spirit outside themselves. The disciples saw it at work in Jesus; and as long as he remained physically present they kept looking for it outside themselves.

In the 17th Century -- If that's what the Christian scriptures said, that's what people almost uniformly agreed to. For some of us today -- this is still what they believe they must believe, as a matter of conventional common sense. But as I said, it utterly devastates what the larger, public society holds up as conventional common sense. So, I was wondering, which 'common sense' did people here find cogent? -- and how do they feel the tension of this?

In my own case, I found NT Wright (who credits the scriptures more literally than I would) making a pretty plausible historical case -- utterly convincing, at least, on the point that this is what early Christians were sure had actually happened. And that this wasn't some accidental misapprehension on their part, but something bound up in the fulfilment of God's intention for the world.

But I don't think anyone can believe it on the sole basis that early Friends thought so, or that the Christian scriptures say so. There's a bottom line or two here. 1) That this wasn't just some ordinary person whom God decided to bring back to show it could be done -- and then showed only to a few favoured people. Jesus was raised up as vindication, to show that the authoritative religious establishment could and did get God's intentions wrong -- while what Jesus was doing and saying actually did express God's will. 2) We aren't going to get this ( because it is so entirely crosswise to 'common sense') except as Pennington is saying here, by recognizing God's intentions via God's presence at work inside. Without this, we couldn't trust God to be telling us anything true or useful in these somewhat bewildering texts....

What else?

I don't think it matters one way or another really. Have your read The Life of Pi (or seen the movie). Pi asks, "Which story do you prefer?"  If you need/want/desire to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and it helps your faith or gives meaning to your life, then great. If someone chooses to believe in the resurrection symbolically and it helps them live a good life than that is ok, too. If someone believes it's just a story, then that person can move on to other things that help them live their life to their fullest. Believe. If it doesn't matter, then I don't think there is any pressure or need to believe. 

Marianna Boncek said:

If someone chooses to believe in the resurrection symbolically and it helps them live a good life than that is ok, too. If someone believes it's just a story, then that person can move on to other things that help them live their life to their fullest.


I want to 'believe in' whatever is actually true.

One element of what is called "faith" is the trust that if you're willing to face whatever does turn out to be the truth -- this will turn out to be something one can live with, and even love. (There is another meaning that goes beyond that, but we'll get into that later, maybe.)

Forrest wrote:

"We aren't going to get this ( because it is so entirely crosswise to 'common sense') except as Pennington is saying here, by recognizing God's intentions via God's presence at work inside."

I think that this is correct. Before some of these stories and writings make sense, they need to be read from a different perspective. Fox spoke of "opening" the Scriptures, and by that he meant explaining the spiritual meaning so that they made sense to people who hadn't yet made the same inward discovery that he and others in the early movement had. For an example of the futility of trying to make sense of these matters from a common sense perspective, look at the conversation with Nicodemus in John 3.

 

This is not to say that nothing can be done using our natural faculties to further our way. In your response, Forrest, to the whatever-floats-your-boat comment by another writer, you upheld the importance of struggling to find and then subjecting yourself to the truth, however difficult that proves to be. This devotion to truth is the stuff of which Quakers are made!  A parable that teaches the importance of using our human capacities well is the one about the talents in Matthew 25, verses 14 through 30.

 

Though using our intellect and our integrity to both find and value truth will never gain us an understanding of heavenly things, our discernment is exercised and improved by using these capacities in an honest, diligent way. And we need to improve our discernment if we are ever to follow the inward movement of the Spirit. Using these highest human powers (intellect, integrity) prepares us for receiving the wisdom that comes from above; in traditional language, it prepares the Way of the Lord by making his paths straight. This is the teaching of John the Baptist, who immediately precedes the Christ, both in the Scriptures and also within.

 

 

 

If Jesus did physically and bodily resurrect, then was His ascension physically and bodily a process of going up into the sky?

Agnikan Ashwin said:

If Jesus did physically and bodily resurrect, then was His ascension physically and bodily a process of going up into the sky?


This doesn't appear to be a consistent element in the stories. Furthermore, it's hard to say where this "up" would be... In the direction of what? Much like Jesus conceived as physically seen returning in the sky everywhere -- difficult to do on a spherical Earth.

Luke [http://lightthruthepages.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/luke-24/]

"Then he led them as far as Bethany, and blessed them with uplifted hands; and in the act of blessing he departed from them." New English Bible: "Some witnesses add 'and was carried up to Heaven'."

New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1973 (Revised Standard version): "While he blessed them, he departed from them, and was carried up into Heaven." "Other ancient authorities omit 'and was carried up into Heaven'."

"Luke" in Acts ( after spending "forty days" with them): "As they watched, he was lifted up, and a cloud removed them from their sight." [Think also of Daniel, 'One like us sons of Adam' going to the Ancient of Days to be given dominion over the Earth.]

--- ----- -----


The actual resurrection stories seem quite inconsistent, except as ways of conveying the fact that everyone concerned had experienced Jesus as physically present. The body involved seems to be "in this world but not of it", ie Jesus can eat a physical fish, if he wishes, but can also pass through a solid wall simply to demonstrate that he isn't limited by such things.

----- ------ ------

God had to enable Jesus to return to his people, in order to achieve the results we observe -- a rapidly growing movement, supporting the royal claims of a man whom everyone else agreed was dead. The sudden appearance of "death plus resurrection" as an attribute of the Messiah -- based on what? Nothing in "The Scriptures" that anyone else has found before or since. But if your candidate for Messiah comes to a bad end -- and then reappears, alive -- It seems to demonstrate that God isn't going to let a little thing like death stand in the way of 'His' will for us.

Having Jesus physically ascend into the sky, however... Could he? Sure. Did he need to? I don't think so. That's why I'm less inclined to affirm any such thing... or think it matters particularly.

An ambulance worker I knew in the 70's -- had the day off, and had taken LSD. A neighbor of his had taken too many pills, and he found her near death. He said he'd seen her floating up into a dark tunnel of some sort, and floated up after her to bring her back. But while he was doing this, he was physically dialing 911, and doing everything he knew on a physical level to pull her through.

I think it happened.  Why?  Because it makes sense to me from my understanding of the whole bible and the claim/fact that many of the people who we are told were there at the time somehow got a lot of people to believe it and died trying to get even more people to believe it.  Why die for something that isn't going to make you rich or powerful?  Something has to be happening to transform lives.  People can't even stay on diets or stop smoking even though they know they ae ruining their health.  Something powerful had to happen to transform His disciples - of course I believe it is still happening and people are still being transformed.  I know I have been.

I believe that Jesus was a man of human parentage, and that his death was precisely like that of any other man or woman. It is his life that should be of importance to us, not his death. Isn't that more in line with what we are about - how we live our lives and not being too concerned about things we can never know?

Incidentally, if we base our beliefs solely on what our forebears believed, in the early days of Christendom, well over half of Christians did not believe Jesus was divine, and many of those were the "barbarian" Germanic tribes. If Clovis had not opted to convert his Franks to trinitarian Christianity, thus tipping the balance,  history could have been quite different.

There's an assumption implied in your belief that this is a "thing we can never know" -- that God is not real to enable us to find the truth of Jesus' life.

Yes, his life is crucial: Who is this man they say was resurrected? -- and what is the significance of him dying "like any other man or woman," beaten almost to death and then hung on a cross to show what happens to people like that?

It is highly unlikely that our forebears got everything right -- There'd be little need for us if they had, and at least much less we'd need to reconsider.

You can certainly read the Gospel of 'John' as saying, in several places, that we are as divine as Jesus. Any 'God-conscious' Hindu knows this. But the question here is whether Jesus 'natural' death led to a highly atypical return to life, embodied life at least in some sense.

The significance of that is, for one thing, that The Good Guys aren't losing. And that the World is not a swindle, not a hopelessly unjust and tragic misery. They can hang us up to die, but that's a temporary setback; the Fix is in.

Well, I didn't think it a mere implication, but I'll state it affirmatively. We can never be sure of anything we're told to believe without a shred of scientific poof. I would like to believe that Confederate gold is buried in my back yard and am free to do so, but at least that is a belief that can be substantiated or refuted by excavation (so far my wife has resisted). If someone wishes to believe Jesus is a demigod, the product of the mating between a god and a human, and that he literally died and came to life at a time when corpses begin to stink, I have no objection (as long as they let me fantasize  about the gold). Personally, I think Jesus was a man, conceived and perished like any man. But religious beliefs can never be substantiated or refuted. We cannot know these things. It's better to see the light in all people and live our lives accordingly.


Forrest Curo said:

There's an assumption implied in your belief that this is a "thing we can never know" -- that God is not real to enable us to find the truth of Jesus' life.

Yes, his life is crucial: Who is this man they say was resurrected? -- and what is the significance of him dying "like any other man or woman," beaten almost to death and then hung on a cross to show what happens to people like that?

It is highly unlikely that our forebears got everything right -- There'd be little need for us if they had, and at least much less we'd need to reconsider.

You can certainly read the Gospel of 'John' as saying, in several places, that we are as divine as Jesus. Any 'God-conscious' Hindu knows this. But the question here is whether Jesus 'natural' death led to a highly atypical return to life, embodied life at least in some sense.

The significance of that is, for one thing, that The Good Guys aren't losing. And that the World is not a swindle, not a hopelessly unjust and tragic misery. They can hang us up to die, but that's a temporary setback; the Fix is in.

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