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'What Sort of Bodies are They to Have?' - A Response to JimSpace (Part Two)

Tags: jesus body human
'What Sort of Bodies are They to Have?'
September 30th, 2017

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

In this post, I'll continue my response to Jesus' Resurrection Body by JimSpace. Specifically, I'll respond to his argument that Jesus' resurrection body and those of resurrected Christians are immaterial because they're 'made without hands.' And, I'll counter the related argument that, since Paul describes the resurrection body as 'spiritual', it must be an immaterial spirit body (kind of like an angel's); while I do so, I'll note what it means to say that 'flesh and blood' will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Jim says:
At John 2:19-22, Jesus propounded a riddle about his resurrection. . . . The Jews thought he was speaking of Herod's Temple, and used this against him later at his trial, where witnesses against him testified: "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.'" (Mark 14:58)
The verses he cites read:
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.’ 
John 2:19-22 - Jesus replied to them: “Tear down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said: “This temple was built in 46 years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was talking about the temple of his body. When, though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples recalled that he used to say this, and they believed the scripture and what Jesus had spoken.
Jim asks if this means that his physical body would be restored. He says it wouldn't, noting that St. Paul describes the resurrection body of Christians in similar terms at 2 Corinthians 5:1; Paul says:
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.
To Jim this is clear proof that "Christians raised to heavenly life are given spiritual bodies suited for life outside of earth's atmosphere and outside of the 'realms below,' the physical realm, following the pattern of Jesus who also received a spiritual body." Why? I think there are two reasons why Jim thinks that this is so.

First, Jim notes that Jesus said these remarks when his body was obviously physical, and so equates 'made with hands' with 'physical'. Thus, 'not made with hands' must mean 'immaterial'. 

I disagree; while there might be significant correlation between what is physical and what is 'made with hands' the two terms are not coextensive. The latter description, in fact, refers to what is of this (present) creation, what is corruptible, frail, mortal, and often to things that foreshadows things to come in the new creation. Similarly, what is 'made without hands' are things that belong to the new creation, not primarily to what is made by God pure and simple, or what is immaterial; but to that which are made by God as new creations, and thus to things that are eternal, glorious, powerful, incorruptible. Physicality isn't ruled out in the new creation, so Jim' argument collapses. I'll explain this point further in next week's post, Hands-Free.

Second, Jim notes that Paul describes the resurrection body of Christians as "spiritual" - which he takes to mean immaterial - at 1 Corinthians 15:35-57, and that since the same body is being discussed at 2 Corinthians 5:1, which Paul describes it as "made without hands", he assumes that 'made without hands' describes the resurrection body qua immaterial.[1] And so, Jesus' body, since it was 'made without hands' is also immaterial. We'll examine this argument today.

However, there are two problems with this view (the less significant is noted in the footnote). Primarily, it just isn't the case that "spiritual" means "immaterial", as an examination of 1 Corinthians 15 will reveal. Paul contrasts our present bodies with our resurrection bodies at 1 Corinthians 15:42,43:
1 Corinthians 15:42,43 - It is sown in corruption; it is raised up in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised up in power.
Nothing here indicates that the resurrection body is immaterial. However, things seem to change in verse 44:
1 Corinthians 15:44 - It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. 
It looks like I'm down for the count. However, I have a trick or two up my sleeve. First, I would like to note that the "it" (namely, our body) is the same throughout. It is sown . . . and the same "it" is raised up. Since an immaterial body can't be the same as a physical body, this gives us some indication that "spiritual" shouldn't be taken as "immaterial". To be sure, there is a great deal of change to the body at the resurrection, but the end result isn't an immaterial, angel-like body.

More persuasively, we can note that Paul elsewhere uses "spiritual" (pneumatikos in Greek) in ways that don't indicate the immateriality of the thing described as "spiritual". Let's turn back a few pages:
1 Corinthians 2:14,15 - But 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, because they are examined spiritually. However, the spiritual man examines all things, but he himself is not examined by any man.
Commenting on this verse, William Lane Craig says:
Here the contrast is not between material, visible, tangible man and immaterial, unextended, invisible man. Rather, the natural man is the man who is dominated by the fallen human nature and oriented toward it. The spiritual man is the man who is filled with the Spirit of God and dominated by and oriented toward the Spirit of God.
Elsewhere, Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 - Now I want you to know, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all got baptized into Moses by means of the cloud and of the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink.
The food and drink weren't immaterial, instead their origin were supranational (and they typified things that were yet to come), and hence Craig prefers rendering pneumatikos as "supernatural". Correspondingly, he prefers "natural" to "physical".

Going back to 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, Craig concludes:
[Thus the contrasts here is] between a natur[al] body and a supernatural body that will be dominated by and orientated toward the Spirit of God.
Those who are spiritual men, will receive appropriate bodies in the resurrection; and nothing about this fact necessitates their receiving immaterial ones, which defeat's Jim's case.

What about this, though:
1 Corinthians 15:50 - Flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
Some attempt to avoid the apparent immaterial implication of this passage by appealing to a less than persuasive technicality: Jesus only had flesh and bone, not blood ergo, he uh . . . Jim rightly rejects such reasoning.

Still what is meant by "flesh and blood" =/= what is meant by "flesh and bone", nor does it mean "human" pure and simple. Instead, the former is primarily used in connection with mortal and frail Human nature. However, "flesh and bone" isn't so limited; but it extends to humanity as such. Adam and Eve were of one "flesh and bone" (even in an unglorified albeit unfallen state), and Jesus (in a glorified state) noted that he was of "flesh and bone" (whereas, he said, spirits are not).

Rightly understood, that "flesh and blood" won't inherit God's Kingdom doesn't imply that human beings won't inherit God's Kingdom, only that those of mortal, frail, corruptible (and sinful and fallen, some suggest) human nature cannot. This is perfectly consistent with saying that men with glorified, incorruptible human bodies led by the Spirit can. And so, this passage is of little help to Jim or to those who have similar views.

The points made in these last two posts suffice, I think, to demonstrate that Jesus is a human being, one with a supernaturally glorified body. Still there is more to discuss. We'll have two more posts in this series before taking a break, with the fifth (a response to his most recent post on this subject) to follow some time after.

[1] Even if the resurrection body is immaterial, I don't think we'd be justified in assuming that 'made with hands' = physical, and 'made without hands'  = immaterial.

P.S. Someone has suggested that my comparison of Jesus' radiant appearance to that of Moses' face after he descended from Sinai argues against the physicality of Jesus' resurrection body. My friend, who suggested this to me, didn't elaborate, so either the suggestion was not his and he didn't know how its originator proceeded to develop it, or it was his but he hadn't yet developed it. Personally, I'm don't think there is anything to develop, it's dead on arrival.

Why did Moses' face shine after he came down from Sinai? This was due to something extrinsic to him, so it was something miraculous. Was Jesus able to become brighter than the Sun (and Moses) in like manner, or did he possess this power within himself? I assume the argument - if there is any to be found here - assumes it was something extrinsic to him, that is, something that human beings couldn't pull off on their own. Where does that leave us - with a nonphysical, non-human Jesus?

Hardly. We'd have a Jesus who was able to miraculously (by God's power) shine brightly. From this it doesn't follow that Jesus is immaterial. Indeed, that we are talking about light, suggests that we are talking about something physical. And, even if it turns out we are not talking about someone physical (that is, Jesus is not a physical being), we have no reason to assume that given the present suggestion. Or if we did, we would have reason to think Moses was as well; but he wasn't, nor is Jesus. It's just a non-sequitur.

Part of what motivates Jim's argument is the purported absurdity of God preserving the human Jesus in environments that are hostile to human life. One can ask if the preservation of the Israelite's clothing in the Wilderness or the three Hebrews in the furnace are likewise beyond credence.

Jim harshly criticized me for misunderstanding his view on materialization. In a comment on Part One he claims that I mischaracterized due to laziness or insincerity his position on materialization.

What did I say to earn this ire? My guess is that I said 'if Jim says X' or 'if Jim says Y', which to Jim indicates my unfamiliarity with his views. (Why not say 'Jim says X'?) Or, perhaps because I say, 'I don't think Jim wants to say that angels or Christ formed true human bodies when they materialized' when Jim says just that, or at least something much like it, to wit: "[they made] human flesh" and "they construct[ed] real, functional male bodies." (How could you say, 'I don't think I would say X' when I say X?)

Still, if Jim had taken the time to read my essay dispassionately, he would have recognized that this issue plays only a minor role in my overall case in that essay. And that I think I do address his position on materialization vis-a-vis Jesus statement "I have flesh and bone, as a spirit does not". Instead of spitefully accusing me of deception, complaining, intellectual-laziness and insincerity - faults which his comment exhibits, but from which my essay is innocent - he could have responded to my argument. Anyway, I want to address why I spoke as I did and why Jim is wrong in thinking that I mischaracterized his position.

As I understand it, he affirms that angels don't become human beings when they materialize. So they don't transform angelic-bodies in toto into human bodies (since that would just be for them to be human beings, it seems). Do they transform part of what makes them up into matter, which they then shape into a human form? It seems that Jim doesn't believe this, instead they use some source external to them (e.g., the matter near by where they want to appear). In any event, the product of materialization is, Jim says, a fully functioning human (male) body.

I wrote:
I think that Jim doesn't want to say that angels, when they "materialize", cease to be spirits beings, or that Jesus ceased to be a spirit being when he "materialized".
I know that Jim doesn't think this. It wouldn't make sense for him, since he would just give the game away to the view that Christ was raised up a human being.

I also said:
Nor do I think he wants to say that that Jesus literally had a complete human body again.
Now, why did I say "I don't think Jim wants to say X" when Jim seems to say X (and I know he says X)? The main reason is that, I don't think it makes sense for Jim to say X, and I give reasoning to that effect. Which Jim completely ignores, contenting himself to insult.

I continue:
. . . since this seems to imply that he took on human nature again (especially for a physicalist like Jim, where a human being just is their body functioning in a certain way), which Jim denies; he also denies that Jesus could or does have two natures, and saying that Jesus during his resurrection appearances had a true human body would seem to entail something like the Hypostatic Union (only a angelic-human union instead of a Divine-human union).
My argument is that, if a fully functioning (male) human body is present, then so is a human man. But Jim doesn't want to say that. If he does, he either has to say that the human is not Jesus, but then how can we say that Jesus is the one who has appeared / materialized. If it is Jesus, and if Jesus is still a angelic being as well, then it seems we have a angelic-human nature union going, analogous to the Hypostatic Union which Jim loathes. Jim owes us an explanation as to how a human body can be present without there also being a human being present. I don't think he can do so, and at least hasn't even tried.

Why is this important? Because my argument is that, only human beings can have "flesh and bone" as Jesus did. Angels can only simulate these things, make what outwardly looks like flesh and bones. Jesus claimed he truly had these, so it wasn't a mere materialization. This is perhaps a more extravagant way of making the point that since Jesus was not a spirit, you can't solve the "I have flesh and bones" saying by saying he was a materialized spirit, since that is just to say "I am a spirit appearing as a man some way or other", which is to implicitly deny that Jesus says he was not a spirit. At least the points complement each other.

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

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'What Sort of Bodies are They to Have?' - A Response to JimSpace (Part Two)


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