Thursday, September 3, 2009
I'll Fly Away????? I Think?????
From Grave to Glory Murray J. Harris 1990 Zondervan Academic
I wish I kept a journal to share the unfolding of this study several years ago. I found some articles by Harris online and was intrigued but found his book out of print. Every couple of months I would search the used Christian Bookstore on Central Ave. Downtown. One day there it was, and I was like a kid in a Candy Store.
Harris was at the time professor of New Testament Exegesis and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He noted that there had not been a serious book written on the subject since the turn of the century and so he embarking on an historical and exegetical examination of the doctrine of resurrection.
His 300 page work is thorough and excellent, yet this edition of the book expands to 478 pages because it includes the controversy that arose when his colleague two offices down, none other than Dr. Norman Geisler, accused him of either being heretical or most certainly unorthodox.
I felt so exited to see these two duking it out theologically right before my reading eyes. This is an evangelical,s thrill, a disagreement between two guys who are both believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and cannot agree on what it says. I get giddy just sharing it again.
What was the issue? According to Harris, Jesus was raised bodily and transformed. Here are a couple of his conclusions.
The Christian doctrine of resurrection excludes the view that sees immortality as a disembodied or purely spiritual existence. The Christians desire and destiny is not for release from embodiment but for the redemption of the body through resurrection. Not for the divestiture of the physical body investiture with the spiritual body.
He goes on to affirm that this will not be a transient thing but an immortality, freedom from decay and death because it has the constant invigoration of God’s endless power.
So what was Geislers beef? Here was the question, Was the body that went into the grave and the one that came out of the grave a literal physical body? (Can you see the fighting literal fundy coming out of that question? Murray, a honest scholar said, Yes and No? (Its those yes and no questions that have defined my life}
Ie. Jesus was no longer bound by time and space limitations, but he actually had touchable wounds and actually ingested real fish and bread. (at this point Reeses Cups in heaven pops into my mind).
We must wrestle with a mytery, he says, about the capabilities and capacities of Christ’s resurrection body. Long story short, an actual golfing buddy of mine Dr.John Vawter, after a couple of long meetings, made a motion that affirmed Harris’s orthodoxy. 500 to 10.
Of course Geisler never gave up his suspicions. But for good ole mystery loving me, it meant that God does not have to go to that plastic hole over in the Methodist garden to get some of Bernies DNA or molecular material to give Bernie a resurrection body, or to get Jaws to belch out human remains to find those poor victims, or the nuked bodies at Hiroshima, or the pulverized people of the Twin Towers.
How all this came together for me personally as a pastor/amateur theologian and what I would tell Dixie about her departed loved ones…..next post.