Friday, March 14, 2008

Ssssh... don't mention the resurrection!

This afternoon I popped along to the Manchester leg of the EA sponsored tour exploring the subject of the Resurrection. Here in Manchester we got Prof Gary Habermas, an able scholar, but sadly minus his stellar counterpart Tom Wright who has appeared at many of the other dates. The first session began promisingly with an opening reference to 1 Corinthians 15, but then sadly descended into a ramble about the common ground that exists between conservatives, moderates and liberals when it comes to the teaching of the resurrection in the writings of 'the big 4' (Habermas' reference to Paul, Peter, John and James).
I cornered said Prof over coffee and pressed him for a preview of his second session, hoping to hear that he would indeed be getting into 1 Corinthians 15 or material of that ilk. Sadly not. We had a helpful chat about the impact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus on discipleship in the here and now but I could not coax him into a discussion about why the personal resurrection beliefs of the early church have been sidelined more recently for a woolly expectation of the soul drifting off at death to spend eternity in heaven. Even when I pitched a carefully worded question in the public forum later on, Prof Habermas and two other able theologians all seemed to fail to grasp what I was getting at. It really does seem that there are very few people alert to the fact that it's almost taboo for contemporary Christians to speak of their hopes about their own future bodily resurrection.
I popped round to my dad's later and asked him what he thought. After pondering for a minute he said that the last time, and only time, he had ever heard anyone preach on future bodily resurrection was 30 years ago! That seriously needs to change.

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