Does it matter if the resurrection was literal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Wednesday night, I was at the debate between my father-in-law, Mike Licona, and John Dominic Crossan about who the historical Jesus was and how he saw himself. I hate to say it, but it really wasn’t much of a debate because I don’t think anyone really understood what Crossan was arguing. Crossan was putting practically everything into the world of metaphor and saying that the message was a metaphor and that he would die for a metaphor and if the resurrection is literal, what difference would it make? The real question is are we living resurrected lives.
When I got up to ask a question, I said my wife and I enjoy being married. Still, we wonder what will happen when our time comes. Will we be together forever? I replied that a literal resurrection can assure us that we will be. What hope can a metaphor give us?
The reply was something along the lines of how the message was not the resurrection of individuals but that the human race would overcome. The violence of Rome would be overthrown by non-violence. This is supposedly the good news of Jesus.
There are a number of things I wonder about this, such as how this Jesus got crucified. Despite that, there is one thing I want to focus on. The resurrection. Does it make a difference if it’s a metaphor or literal?
I’m not going to go into making a whole case for the resurrection. That has been done plenty of times elsewhere. I am going to be emphasizing the difference it makes and to be fair, it is easy to miss this many times.
One big difference is that we live in a world where death is a reality. We see it all around us. We know that when the game over comes for someone, it really is game over barring a miracle. It’s a sad reality. When we bury a loved one, they are dead, and the relationship is not the same.
Will it ever be? Is that it?
We live in a world of injustice. Recently here in Atlanta, we had a police officer shot who died from that and his killer was found within 48 hours and also died when he pulled out a weapon on police officers. There are many crimes that take place and sadly, the culprit is never found. Some people seem to go free.
Will there ever be justice?
Sometimes people die from disease. Our friend, Nabeel Qureshi, died from stomach cancer at an extremely young age. Just today in my Facebook memories I saw something about a friend who passed away last year. She was an older lady, but it’s still hard to see.
Will this ever be righted?
What about our universe itself? Some of you out there I am sure believe we are responsible for some climate change. We live in a world there does seem to be a lot of destruction. We want to colonize other planets, but even if we do, the universe is destined to die a cold death and take us with it.
Is there any point?
What about our bodies themselves? Do they matter? Are human beings just objects. Does it matter what I do with my body? Does it matter how I behave sexually or how my diet is?
What difference does it make?
This is why the resurrection matters? Will we live again and see each other again? Yes. Will evil be judged and good rewarded? Yes. Will lives be redeemed that died from tragic disease? Yes. Will the Earth and the universe be renewed and made eternal paradises? Yes. Do our bodies matter and how we treat them? Yes.
The resurrection matters.
It matters that it’s literal.
I think I’ll stick with the literal resurrection. That’s the good news that overcame the Earth. Christianity isn’t just a nice story. It’s a reality about the world and everything in it.
Those interested in the debate can listen to it here.