Tuesday, January 24, 2012

C. S. Lewis on the Resurrection of the Body

Last summer I wrote a post on the often neglected but absolutely central Christian belief in the resurrection--not only the Easter Resurrection of Jesus, but the coming general resurrection of all of God's people (see, for instance, Is 26:19; Dan 12:1-3; 1 Cor 15:20-22; Heb 6:1-2; 11:35).

Recently, while reading through the gospel of John in The C. S. Lewis Bible, I was reminded of an important and powerful reflection of Lewis's on the resurrection, from his book Miracles:

The Resurrection was not regarded simply or chiefly as evidence for the immortality of the soul. It is, of course, often so regarded today: I have heard a man maintain that "the importance of the Resurrection is that it proves survival." Such a view cannot at any point be reconciled with the language of the New Testament. On such a view Christ would simply have done what all men do when they die: the only novelty would have been that in His case we were allowed to see it happening. But there is not in Scripture the faintest suggestion that the Resurrection was new evidence for something that had in fact been always happening. The New Testament writers speak as if Christ's achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the "first fruits," the "pioneer of life." He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.

Here the citation in the CSL Bible ends; in the book, Lewis goes on: "What the apostles thought they had seen was... the first movement of a great wheel beginning to turn in the direction opposite to that which all men hitherto had observed." The Resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of the great work of reversal that is God's new creation: streams break forth in the desert, the hungry are filled with good things, the wolf and the lamb graze together, and the earth gives birth to the dead. Everything is different now.
This biblical picture of hope is not the gospel of souls floating up to heaven to be with God, but of God making things right in the creation that has been invaded by the powers of sin and death. This is a gospel about healing the world--including our human bodies--not abandoning it.

To me, this is a much richer and more compelling picture of God's saving work than you get with this idea of a disembodied eternity with God in heaven. Of course it also has the added advantage of being the biblical and traditional Christian vision of God's plans for his people and his world.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

73% of Protestant pastors in America reject evolution

73 percent.
This is a staggering and incredibly frustrating statistic for me. It comes from a survey carried out by LifeWay research, sampling 1,000 ministers "from randomly selected Protestant churches." A few other stats coming out of this phone survey can be found on CNN's Belief Blog here.

If you don't understand why such results would upset me, you probably have not read much on the wardrobe before. I just can't seem to get away from this topic. If you're interested in reading a bit on evolution, I'd point you towards two older posts on this blog (one of which will point, in turn, to the blog of Rachel Held Evans): happy birthday Charles Darwin! and another post on Evolution.

Friday, January 06, 2012

January is anti-trafficking month

Happy New Year, everyone!

In case you hadn't heard (and I hadn't heard until looking at the article below), President Obama declared this month "National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month." A presidential proclamation runs:

Human trafficking endangers the lives of millions of people around the world, and it is a crime that knows no borders. Trafficking networks operate both domestically and transnationally, and although abuses disproportionally affect women and girls, the victims of this ongoing global tragedy are men, women, and children of all ages.
Around the world, we are monitoring the progress of governments in combating trafficking while supporting programs aimed at its eradication. From forced labor and debt bondage to forced commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary domestic servitude, human trafficking leaves no country untouched.
With this knowledge, we rededicate ourselves to forging robust international partnerships that strengthen global anti-trafficking efforts, and to confronting traffickers here at home.

In tandem with this federal move, CNN's Freedom Project has been highlighting news related to modern slavery and human trafficking. I was surprised to find this piece on CNN's homepage focused on the recent 2012 Passion Conference in Atlanta.
If you want to stay on top of the news from the Freedom Project, you can follow it here. This is certainly an issue on which most of us Americans need more education (myself included) and that Christians simply cannot ignore.