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Hands-Free - A Response to JimSpace (Part Three)

October 3rd, 2017

(Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four)

It is sometimes argued that our resurrection bodies shall be Immaterial since they're to be "made without hands". It is assumed that "made with hands" denotes the physicality of the subject - our present bodies for example - so the opposite must be true: if it is "not made with hands" it is immaterial. On this view, then, we shall exchange our present Physical bodies for new immaterial ones in the resurrection.

However, I argue that, while many things "not made with hands" are immaterial, the two categories are not coextensive; and even when the expression is applied to immaterial things it is not meant about them qua immaterial. Further, being "made without hands" isn't simply a matter of being created by God, which wouldn't suffice to establish a things immateriality, anyway.[1] Rather, a thing's being "made without hands" denotes it as being made by God as a new creation, and as such being eternal, incorruptible and glorious. That something is "made with hands" implies that it belongs to this (present) creation, often as something that typifies that which belongs to the "new creation", and, whether it is made (directly) by God or not, is thus corruptible and frail.

The upshot is that one can't conclude that our resurrection bodies will be immaterial merely because they're "made without hands," since nothing about this definition necessitates the things of the new creation be immaterial. Further, I'll argue that some things of the new creation must be physical, including glorified mankind. Additionally, I'll note that some things in the new creations aren't made out of new cloth as it were, but are things that once were of 'this creation'that have been regenerated -changed, but not replaced. And this is how we should understand our resurrection bodies: we don't exchanged bodies, but our present mortal body will altered (glorified), yet being the same human body before and after.

To begin, let's note how 'made with(out) hands' is used in the Bible. And as we do so, note the connection between 'made with(out) hands' and being of the old/new creations respectively. That is, if something is "made without hands" it is of the new creation, but if it is "made with hands" it is of the old.
Mark 14:58 - We heard him say, ‘I will throw down this temple that was made with hands, and in three days I will build another not made with hands.’ 
2 Corinthians 5:1 - For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, should be torn down, we are to have a building from God, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens. 
Acts 7:48 - However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands, just as the prophet says.
Hebrews 9:11 - However, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have already taken place, he passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 
Hebrews 9:24 - For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, so that he now appears before God on our behalf. 
Ephesians 2:11 - Therefore, remember that at one time you, people of the nations by fleshly descent, were the ones called “uncircumcision” by those called “circumcision,” which is made in the flesh [with hands]. 
Colossians 2:11 - By your relationship with him, you were also circumcised with a circumcision performed without hands by stripping off the fleshly body, by the circumcision that belongs to the Christ.
Of note for our present purposes is that Paul says that the 'holy place made without hands' is 'not of this creation', which I think is good indication that the terms are coextensive. Additional proof can be gleaned from how else "the circumcision that belongs to Christ" is described. It makes its recipient a new creation, it is through it that the new man is formed, and we become "spiritual men", by means of it we are in (union with) Christ. Paul says:
2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away;[2] look! new things have come into existence. 
Galatians 6:15 - For neither is [literal] circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is.
The circumcision belonging to Christ is (or makes the one receiving it) a new creation. It is described in other terms as well, most notably as stripping off the old man and being clothed with the new man "which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it". (Colossians 3:9,10) This new man is "created according to God's will in true righteousness and loyalty". (Ephesians 4:24) Its effect can be seen by contrasting one who has put on the 'new man' with the merely "physical" or "natural" man. Whereas a "physical man does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know them," the new man - or "spiritual man" - does accept the things of the spirit of God, considers them wise and gets to know them. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

It is also worth noting that what is being transformed is the same thing throughout - the heart of a person - though it becomes a new creation only as a result of God's activity through Christ. Thus something can become a new creation without ceasing to be. It changes, but it is not (always) exchanged for something wholly new.

However, it might be objected that so far, we've seen no proof that things of the new creation aren't all immaterial. On the contrary, I think the above is sufficient (at least in light of prior considerations) to show that our physical bodies will be human. Just as our 'inner man' is preserved as it becomes Spirit-centered, so too our bodies shall be preserved in glorified form. It is, by nature, physical, so it will be physical as a new creation as well. (It isn't a taking away but an adding to.) However, there is more to be said.

Specifically, the new creation will include a new earth and a human race to live upon it, both of which are physical. This can be seen a number of ways. There will be a new heavens and a new earth - are these part of the new creation? Will the new earth be physical? New Jerusalem - a city having real foundations (eternal) and whose builder and designer is God - seems to be of the new creation, and something that Christians will inherit, and which Abraham and the Patriarchs looked forward to. This all to me suggests that the new creation - those things "not made by hands" are not all immaterial, and specifically that human kind will be physical.
Revelation 21:1-5 - And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more. I also saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” And the One seated on the throne said: "Look! I am making all things new."
Particularly of note is the fact that God is making everything new, including the earth. And that mankind is mentioned here as being part of the new creation by name. They aren't described as spirit beings, but as - well, human.

I think I've accomplished what I set out to do, to show that "not made with hands" refers to things of the new creation, and that some things of the new creation will be physical. This shows that it simply won't do to say 'well the resurrection body will be 'not made with hands', so it is immaterial.' In fact, I think that some of the evidence - the new earth, for example - indicates that humans will be physical in the new creation (when the new creation comes in its fullness). What do you think?

[1] The Father made Christ's mortal human body (Hebrews 10:5), the cosmos, including the earth, as a whole, and Adam and Eve's body, but will anyone say that these are of the new creation?

[2] Note a similar expression is used when the new heavens and earth appear - 'the former things have passed away'.

P.S. Jim has put up another post on this topic, this time responding to me, though, not by name. (See his post: With What Sort of Body?) I've already written the rough draft of my response. However, I feel like I'm repeating myself, since I am. Partly, because a lot of what I say in response to Jim hasn't been published yet, and so I'm making some of the points I make in these as of yet unpublished posts, and partly because in several ways Jim begs the question against me, and I have to explain why his ostensible refutation of something I said or some argument I gave fails on that ground; and to this degree, Jim seems to be talking past me. So, my still unfinished reply will not contain much new, for Jim has not sad much new. But that isn't to say that it isn't worth reading his latest post, and this despite things like this:
Therefore, these objections, and any others like them, really betray ignorance and mockery of the scriptures, shallow thinking, a bigoted complaining mentality, and sinful ingratitude for the ransom.
I decided that I will move up the remaining posts in my series responding to Jim. I'll post them starting in March 2018, maybe April 2018. At least two or three of them. The rest I'll publish by the end of next year. I want to space them out a bit, so as to cover a variety of topics. (Heck, I even have one defending Witnesses in some respects; that is, against an argument that I find bad, even though, I do agree with the conclusion. But I digress.)

It occurs to me that I could also bring up the Transfiguration as well, perhaps I will. (Was he still human then? Were his clothing still physical?)

This post first appeared on Witness Seeking Orthodoxy, please read the originial post: here

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Hands-Free - A Response to JimSpace (Part Three)


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