The Theology of the Resurrection

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From an epistemic and spiritual point of view, it is necessary that eventually we must raise our eyes above the plane of history, with all its merely probabilistic arguments and contingent empirical factors, to the Spirit inspired heavenly plane of certain assurance. The life of faith, although it might begin with the things which are seen, eventually needs move to the things which are not seen but grasped in faith, it cannot be bogged down or subject to the uncertainties or critical distance necessary to the task of doing historical science properly.

This brings us to the proper role and meaning if history in biblical interpretation. He argues that historical arguments and evidences locate the resurrection event in the objective world external to our subjective belief or will.

Resurrection (Theology): Selected full-text books and articles

While historical evidence cannot tell us that the resurrection occurred, it can tell us where and when it occurred, and in fact, it must do so if the resurrection is to be an objectively true event and not one merely willed into belief by a subjective fiat. There is no doubt that the New Testament has an interest in the connection between resurrection and historicality. The concept of the historic not only aims at the exclusion of the subjective, but also includes indispensable elements of value in its definitions of the concrete, the completed and the unique.

The cardinal point of the resurrection story is thus necessarily the testimony of the eye-witnesses. As such historical evidence, while it cannot establish with infallible certitude the Easter faith, is still a necessary part of the Christian proclamation. The resurrection did occur in a concrete historical setting which setting and context can be discerned and established by historical evidence and eyewitnesses.

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That has to remain an article of faith which comes about by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Was there a global flood or a local one? He could of course drop a thousand page physics journal describing in exquisite mathematical detail the formation of the universe unto a pre-scientific people. However it would simply go right over their heads and completely miss the point, he wanted them to know that he alone made the world, not the scientific mechanics of it.

So instead God choose to communicate it in a manner which a pre-scientific culture could understand it with concepts and images in use in their time. Lord Kelvin contended that the only conceivable mechanism for the Sun to work is for it to convert its gravitational potential energy into radial energy by the gravitational contraction of the sun. So, if you plug in all the figures of the mass, radius and surface temperature of the sun, the Sun could have only been shining for twenty million years.

According to later physicists, they understood that Lord Kelvin was correct in his calculations. However, what Lord Kelvin was wrong was the mechanism. But even in the 19th century with pre-nuclear physics, it is possible to argue against Lord Kelvin via a Just-So Story. A Just-So Story to give an alternative account of solar radiation which can account for the sun burning a hundred million years could go like this:.

Then the kinetic energy of the rotation of all the atoms lost per collision, in addition to the gravitation contraction, could together, provide the necessary radial energy needed for the sun to burn for hundreds of millions of years. The inner actions and dynamics of the atoms contributes to the production of radial energy. In the story, kinetic rotational energy, in the real world, nuclear binding energy. To come back to the Bible, how would such a Just-So story go?

Now in the flood account in Genesis, it is said that the waters rose as high as the mountains. How could we account for this if we think that there was only a local rather than global flood? My little story of course is rather fanciful and rather incredible and I am quite sure that nothing of the sort I just described actually happened. However could something resembling my account have happened?

We can simply accept the text as it has come down to us, authorised and confirmed for us by Jesus, without needing to bother with its literal truth. God can use these accounts, written for and by a people of a certain or particular cultural background, to communicate his will or divine truth for us. The Theological Interpretation of Scripture is a relatively new school in theological circles and has yet to be received as widely as, say, the New Perspective on Paul. It is however a continuation in a more orthodox direction the neo-orthodoxy of the interwar Protestant theologians.

Resurrection (Theology)

Daniel Treier for example in his Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture identifies Karl Barth as the forerunner of the theological interpretation school of thought. While the adherents of this school would not have been as accepting of historical criticism and its numerous skeptical conclusions or naturalistic explanations of biblical phenomena as Karl Barth, nevertheless they would still argue that we need to read the Bible theologically with explicit theological premises and not confine ourselves to the mere literal or historical meaning of the biblical text.

To make a very brief comparative point, I think the theological interpretation of Scripture take the best aspect of narrative theology while avoiding its pitfalls. What is correct about narrative approaches to the Bible is that it does justice the teleological ordering of Biblical events. The Bible does not merely record a disjointed sequence or series of events, they are arranged and crafted to reveal a larger divine purpose and direction for those events or objects which are being realised or developed through salvation history.

The correct sense that God is directing or moving events towards their goal and fulfilment in Jesus Christ can very easily be lost when theologians or biblical scholars concentrate upon the narrative as a humanly constructed form or product. The text becomes emptied of its theological significance and authority when the focus is upon how mere man has chosen to frame or construct the narrative rather what God intended to communicate here.

Narratives as a literary form are inherently plastic thing which can be easily be frame or reframed to prove any conclusion after the fact. A theological reading of the Bible holds together the historical and literal sense with a absolute character of the divine which displaces the human elements of the biblical text from beyond our control. Nor are we allowed to invent overarching narratives to negate or overwhelm the particular historical or literal details of the Bible. Rather, the human and literal elements of the Bible must be firmly subject to its substantive theological content, the divine will and character revealed within, and not human narrative spinning which could be discarded or rearranged at pleasure.

I wish to end off with some remarks about a seeming paradox of Karl Barth.


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Barth accepted historical criticisms of the Bible and its many skeptical conclusions. He did not think when and where the resurrection occurred was important and considered eyewitnesses to the New Testament events to be immaterial. Yet even though Barth held to many such skeptical conclusions which would shock the contemporary Evangelical, he held otherwise to many practical theological positions rejected by Evangelicals who would insist upon the literal sense of Scripture.

How could that be? Thus if God prescribes something in the Scriptures then he will obey and conform. The past as witnessed in the Bible is not for itself but ultimately for us and for our salvation, to lead us unto both faith and obedience to the Word made flesh. The remark has often been made that the theology manuals devote little space to the resurrection compared to the long elaborations dealing with the divinity of Christ or with his redeeming mission.

And even today, rare are the theologians who choose the resurrection of Christ as the organizing principle of Christology. Because of this neglect and the common misemphases of Christian theology, I am compelled to write this article and to make "a call for resurrection theology. As we evaluate Christian thought through the centuries, we note that different segments of the church have tended to emphasize different historical events in the life of Jesus. The two primary events thus emphasized are the birth of Jesus and the death of Jesus. Roman Catholic theology has tended to emphasize the birth of Jesus in the theology of the incarnation.

Emphasis is placed on Mary, the birth mother of Jesus, and upon the virgin birth of Jesus. This is not to say that Roman Catholic theology has neglected the death of Jesus in crucifixion, as is obviated by the crucifix symbol that is found in all Catholic churches and in many Catholic homes, but the primary emphasis to explain Jesus as the God-man has seemingly been on the incarnational birth of Jesus. Protestant theology, on the other hand, has for almost five hundred years tended to emphasize the death of Jesus in crucifixion, focusing on the cross and the sacrificial blood of Jesus.

The Reformation emphasis was on the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ as an expiatory action that propitiated God's judgment on man and reconciles sinners to God so that they may be declared justified. Australian author, Robert D. Brinsmead, comments that, "It is well known that Catholicism made the Incarnation central to its theology, while Protestantism made the atonement of the cross the central thing.

Stewart, wrote similarly, "Protestant theology, concentrating on the atoning sacrifice of the cross, has not always done justice to the apostolic emphasis on the risen life. It is important to understand that the objective, historical events of incarnation and crucifixion, the birth and the death of the historical, physical Christ, were remedial measures enacted by God to remedy the problem of man's sin; to provide the solution to the fall of humanity into sin in Adam. If the incarnation and crucifixion were the only historical acts of God on man's behalf, then the gospel would cease to be "good news".

If the gospel narrative was only that "Jesus was born. Jesus died. God said to man: 'There is the remedy! I came. I fixed the problem. Now you are fixed. The slate is wiped clean.

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What is the Theological and Practical Significance of Christ's Resurrection? - Founders Ministries

Now, go and do a better job next time. That is damnable doctrine. That is tragic teaching! The incarnation and crucifixion alone serve only to condemn man all the more.

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The story would go like this: "A man came who was God-man. He did not share the spiritual depravity of the rest of mankind.

He did not develop the "flesh" patterning of selfish desires like other men. He lived life as God intended, allowing God in him to manifest His desire and character at every moment in time for thirty-three years. He was the perfect man! He did not deserve to die, but He was put to death unjustly.

In dying undeservedly, He died in our place, as our substitute, and paid the price of death to satisfy God's justice, and forgive mankind of their sins. If so, He lived and died perfectly which we cannot do. If the incarnation and crucifixion were the whole of the story, then we would have been better off without Him!