Theo Todman's Web Page - Notes Pages
(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)
The continued and eternal existence of the believer, with a substantially preserved personality, in a state of happiness after death, commencing at or before some form of resurrection.
- The precise (or even general) form, location and time of the resurrection is not central to a meaningful Christianity.
- However, the location of all things spiritual outside the physical universe, so that they are totally unobservable, may be seen as a fortunate convenience, but one making them liable to excision by Occam's razor.
- Hence, the more Biblical approach of placing the resurrection, or resurrections, within this universe at a certain time, or times, in the future has the virtue of concreteness. It has to be noted, however, that Christian orthodoxy has always resisted this idea & there is, in any case, a measure of ambiguity in the later Epistles of Paul.
- There would, of course, be a requirement for a change in the laws of physics if life were to be literally endless (taking this to be the meaning of "eternal").
- The Pauline picture of the return of Christ in the clouds "with all his saints", which accompanies the resurrection, and of his being met in the air by those Christians then alive, suffers from the same conceptual problems as Christ's ascension : where have Christ & the saints come from ? Again, we have to presuppose some form of accommodation.
- This time (ie. at the resurrection), however, the viewers might be expected to have an entirely different background to those who saw the first event (the ascension). Hence, the accommodation may be supposed to be for the benefit of Paul's original readers.
- This, of course, raises another thorny issue : the delay in the parousia (the return of Christ). Even if, as dispensationalists argue, the early return of Christ was contingent on unspecified premises (eg. the national repentance of Israel), the whole cultural milieu of the end times, whether as recorded in Daniel or Revelation, presupposes an antique technology & power structure (horses, swords, kings etc.).
- Without resort to the accommodation hypothesis yet again, this would imply a return to the dark ages before these events may be fulfilled. While nuclear wars & energy crises may yet bring this about, I cannot believe that the ancient authors had anything like this in mind. Also, it could be argued that a post-industrial economy would be a debased form of industrialism (rather than a reversion to classical culture) much as the dark ages were a debased form of classicism.
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