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Newsweek has an article on the resurrection written by Lisa Miller, author of Heaven:  Our Enduring Fascination With the Afterlife. She cites some interesting statistics:

80% of Americans believe in heaven.

70% believe that Jesus rose from the dead. (Down 10% from 2003)

26% believe that they will have bodies in heaven.

30% of respondents to a 2003 poll believed in reincarnation; 21% of them were Christian.

As N. T. Wright says in Suprised By Hope, there seems to be a lot of present confusion about what Christianity teaches on life after death. He sums up:  the New Testament and early Christians pretty unanimously attested that after death our souls are with the Lord in peace, awaiting his final return when they will be reunited with their (now glorified) bodies, which will live in the new universe.

For some reason, bodily resurrection (and according to Wright, there is no other type of resurrection) is a hard pill to swallow, as Miller’s article attests. She draws attention to how people try to get around it, by embracing a Platonic view of the soul and the body or by making the resurrection symbolic of new life. As Miller (who doesn’t believe in the resurrection herself) points out, without bodily resurrection you do not have the physical delights of heaven.

Bodily resurrection is laughed at by many, who see it for what it is–a natural impossibility. But as Jesus said to the Sadducees, “You do not know…the power of God.”

 

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As Easter week begins, I am reminded of the king who entered Jerusalem two millenia ago, riding peacefully and meekly on a donkey’s colt. The people of Jerusalem greeted him ecstatically, no doubt seeing the arrival of the Messiah who would vanquish the Romans and make Israel a superpower. He, however, greeted them with tears, seeing their rejection of his true mission, which “would bring you peace” (Luke 19:42), and the result of their foolhardy vision of overthowing Rome–destruction in A.D. 70.

“Are you the king of the Jews,” Pilot asked him.

Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36, NIV).

I have just finished reading N. T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope, a wonderful book in which he talks about the surprise of Jesus’ resurrection and what it means for our hope. The resurrection of the Lord is the firstfruits of the coming harvest, the resurrection of all believers. It is that latter resurrection which all creation longs for.

21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

The creation itself will be made new, just like our bodies. It is a new heaven and a new earth that Jesus came to initiate. This is the kingdom of God which he brought by his death, burial, and resurrection. It goes much deeper than earthly dreams of power, glory, and fortune. God’s kingdom is the renewal of everything, from the inside and out, starting with Jesus’ resurrection. It begins in us with the new life of the Spirit, and it continues in our own holiness and our labors in the present world to announce that the kingdom has come. As N. T. Wright stresses, what we do in this world–acts of justice, mercy, and beauty–are not in vain. God will use them when his kingdom comes in full, when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14, NIV).

Yes, King Jesus. Come.

This article from msnbc shames us all.

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”  Matthew 25:40

Giving bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked, and aid to the orphans are all acts of kindness given to Jesus himself, according to the passage above. The opposite is also true. Denying them these things is denying Jesus. What about abusing the hungry, the naked, or the orphan? What about pulling a little deaf boy’s pants down while he is making a confession? Yes, these acts of abuse are done to the Saviour himself, and the King will judge.

Jesus doesn’t give a damn about the shame that might come to the Catholic church if such incidents should come to light. They must come to light because if they do not, the abuse will continue. This is not an issue of personal sin, repentance, and forgiveness. This is a public sin that must have public consequences. This is sexual addiction. Father Murphy reportedly molested one of his students 50 or 60 times, and he is accused of molesting about 200 students. That’s 10,000 acts of molestation, if the one particular student’s case was the norm.

Catholic clergy, you are supposed to be the shepherds of your flock, not wolves. You are supposed to protect your flock, not yourselves.

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