Monday, July 13, 2009

Thoughts on the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus

One of the positions of Armstrongism that has caused it to be rejected by the mainstream of Christianity is its assertion that when Jesus was resurrect he became a spirit being and did not have a material body.

When I accepted Armstrongism I did not even know that this was an issue. I knew about Jesus being resurrected but I never thought to ask myself whether he was resurrected into a spirit creature or bodily, that not only was he resurrected but his body was redeemed as well. This issue was unknown to me.

Now Armstrongism asserts that Jesus was resurrected as a spiritual being as opposed to being resurrected bodily, having his human body revived as well, as may be seen in HWA's article, Was Jesus Dead?

"Jesus was DEAD - but was REVIVED! And the resurrected body was no longer human - it was the Christ resurrected IMMORTAL, once again CHANGED! As He had been changed, converted INTO mortal human flesh and blood subject to death, and for the PURPOSE of DYING FOR OUR SINS; now, by a RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD, HE WAS AGAIN CHANGED, CONVERTED, INTO IMMORTALITY".

According to Armstrongism Jesus' physical human body was not revived. "Now notice carefully. God the Father did not cause Jesus Christ to get back into the body which had died."

On this topic I also recall hearing Roderick Meredith once commenting in a posted sermon on John 21 saying that it is obvious that Christ's appearance was different from what it was before his resurrection. I remember vaguely thinking even then that I saw nothing in John 21 that said that. I did not perceive that this was part of this Armstrongite heresy.

I did not realize this until I renounced Armstrongism but this is just one more reason why "mainstream Christianity" rejected HWA. They take a different position, namely that Jesus' physical human body was revived. Jesus in His resurrected state was not an immaterial spirit being but was a glorified fleshy body who could be touched and handled, who could eat and walk.

Dr. Walter Martin, for instance discussed this in his Kingdom of the Cults. He responded to this position by citing John 2: 19-21. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body." Body here is the word soma and according to Dr. Walter Martin, "The Greek word as has been observed (soma) refers to a physical form not to an immortal spirit! (1984 edition, p. 329.)"

Exit and Support Network has this to say in its article, Any Good Doctrine in the Herbert W. Armstrong Era?:
(6) We believed that Christ was resurrected from the dead:

The truth: HWA taught that Christ's resurrection was not physical; i.e., He was not resurrected with the same body, but a different body than that placed in the grave. The body that was placed in the grave simply "disappeared." (See Luke 24:38-40 and John 20:25-27). This is a false Jesus.
Further evidence that Jesus Christ was resurrected bodily and did not become a spiritual being is Luke 24:39, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."

Kelly Marshall argues at length in Chapter 6 of the critical review of Mystery of the Ages that the belief in the bodily (not as an immaterial and spiritual being) resurrection was an essential belief of early Christianity, and furthermore this belief in a bodily resurrection made Christianity incomprehensible to many of the classical Greeks as they believed that the material body was a prison for the soul and they could not comprehend why it should be necessary to gain a body in the resurrection.

It is also to be noted that this is the teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Thus it seems possible that HWA has once again plagiarized their doctrine.

Now while I was an Armstrongite believer I always just vaguely assumed that Jesus' physical body was revived from death as well as His consciousness. I did not understand that HWA taught that Jesus is now in a completely different spiritual, non-material body. Alas I was so unaware of this topic I did not see how this issue was important.

This teaching of the resurrection of Christ as a spiritual being clearly contradicts Jesus' appeal to Thomas to touch him in order to prove His resurrection to him.

And so once again HWA has been shown to be in error.

This teaching is against Scripture.

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