Thursday, April 12, 2007


(Each "Question of the Week," an idea which I gleaned from A Republic If You Can Keep It, will remain toward the top of the blog until the next question appears. The previous Questions of the Week are HERE)

On March 31, 2007, the Washington Post published an article entitled "A Debate for the Millenia: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?" The article briefly presented two main views, one literal and one metaphoric. Despite the words of Apostle Paul in Corinthians ("If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain"), the debate between adherents of these two views of the Resurrection has been going on for some two millenia.


Excerpt from the article:
Gnostic ideas about bodiless resurrections refuse to die.

High-profile liberals like retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong of Newark dispute the idea that Jesus literally rose from the dead. In his book, "Jesus for the Non-Religious," Spong argues that "to literalize Easter has become the defining heresy of traditional Protestant and Catholic Christianity."

The Resurrection is profoundly real, Spong said in an interview. But it's a mistake to read Gospel accounts of a risen Jesus walking and eating literally, he said. "A human can't explain a God-experience any more than a horse can explain a human experience," Spong said. So the Gospel writers resorted to what they had in hand -- mythological language -- to describe the Resurrection, Spong said.

John Dominic Crossan, a Roman Catholic and a former professor at DePaul University, said the Resurrection is best understood as a metaphor, a belief that puts him at odds with his own church.

Saying the Resurrection "is a metaphor doesn't dismiss it," Crossan said. "I get the message, I get the challenge from the metaphor."

But a metaphor misses the mark, said Paul D. Molnar, a professor of theology at St. John's University in Queens, N.Y. Molnar, a Roman Catholic, recently completed a book on how prominent Christian theologians interpreted the Resurrection. To say Jesus's bodily resurrection is a metaphor "is to lose the reality of God in the world," Molnar said.

Where you stand on the Resurrection tends to mirror how you interpret the Bible, said Stephen T. Davis, a professor of philosophy at California's Claremont McKenna College....
According to the article, Easter is celebrated by some 2 billions Christians worldwide, and polls indicate that 65%-80% of Americans believe in the literal Resurrection of Jesus. In some churches, celebrants who do not believe in such a literal resurrection sit side-by-side with those who do, and many maintain that literal belief in the Resurrection still allows them to practice Christianity.

Does a metaphoric interpretation of the Resurrection of Jesus rob Christianity of its central message?


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posted by Always On Watch @ 4/12/2007 04:00:00 AM