Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our Bodies are not Shells

A question was posed:

If the dead are already in Heaven or Hell , what is the point in the Resurrection??
Why be dragged down from Heaven, stuck in a body, judged and then sent right back?

Interesting question.

My crack at an answer is that our bodies are an integral part of who we are--so if "I" am apart from my body, in an important sense "I" am not really there--"I" am incomplete. God saves persons, not just souls.

I have heard a lot of Christians refer to the body as a sort of shell. That is more of a Greek, and possibly Gnostic (Gnostics are the "knowing ones" who have access to hidden "knowledge" which is not apparent to the fleshly), way of looking at person hood.

We can see the idea of the body as a shell or incidental in the idea of two or more people who want to be spiritually united--two "soul mates", whether man-woman, man-man, woman-woman, or possibly man-man-woman-dog etc. All that matters is that the individual realizes his potential, his divine spark within, and can share that with another enlightened Gnostic. The concentration on "spiritual" union apart from the physical is, unfortunately, a characteristic of our age. The idea is we should not get hung up on the physical equipment because those don't define the person, it is as if we defined a person according to the socks he wares. This strikes me as very similar to the way Gnostics looked at the body as accidental to the divine "spark", which is awakened by the esoteric gnosis imparted to the individual through various means, such as aestheticism or libertinism. This knowledge is esoteric because it has little to nothing to do with what any words actually say--words are mere vehicles for the individual to awaken the spark inside.

Such ways of thinking are antithetical to the doctrine of the resurrection, because for Christians, the body does indeed define the person, along with the soul. Revelation is not esoteric, it is a matter of history--"suffered under Pontius Pilate", the Scriptures, a Church composed of actual people, flesh, bones and souls. So even someone with little or no "knowledge" can be a Christian when his body and soul are washed together in the waters of Baptism, because in the waters of Baptism we are washed with God's Word, made his own, justified and born as a new creature, one who obeys God out of love and not fear as we did before.


Anonymous said...

It should be said that the Bible does not really teach that after the Resurrection we are taken back to heaven.

Rather, it seems that our eternal dwelling is in fact earth, the new earth.

Rev: "Then I saw the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven."

MICHAEL said...


About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages . God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17]. God sent his Son into the world to reconcile us to Himself (Col 1: 20.) Jesus Christ came not to tell us the answer to the universal problem of evil, but to overcome evil, sin and death by His everlasting love. Division and dissension, hatred and fear, aggressive power and exploitation could be conquered only by a gentle, suffering love unto death. By freely sacrificing his human life in dying for us, Jesus in His humanity was raised to glory by His Father’s Spirit and is now able to live within us.

Peace Be With You

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