The problem I have with the resurrection is not the resurrection itself—that is, the act of a physical body sparking back to life.
First off, that does happen. People do “come back to life” after being pronounced dead—and everybody’s at a loss to explain it. But that doesn’t mean it’s a miracle. It just means we don’t understand the physical process—yet.
But let’s say you insist on the resurrection being a classical miracle—that is, it never would have happened if God hadn’t monkeyed around with things. If God is God, I suppose that means He has the power to circumvent the laws of the universe.
Either way, I have no problem with the act of the resurrection. It’s the way it was pulled off that bothers me. The creation of The Christian Church doesn’t look like a beautiful plan unfolded by an all-wise God but, rather, like something that was ad-libbed by humans—a real Keystone Cops affair with goofy goons running around, pants around their ankles, bumping into one another, clobbering each other over the noggin, and honking horns comically.
Think about it. Wouldn’t Jesus have prepped his disciples for the resurrection—told them it was going to happen and what it meant? And it’s not just the resurrection. He would need to explain all the doctrine needed to run the church. For starters, Jesus’ divinity and the Trinity.
However, we know that Jesus didn’t tell his disciples about the resurrection and its ramifications for this new church because of the ideological diversity we see when we look at the early church. Nobody could agree on who Jesus Christ was and why he died and why he rose again. I get a kick when modern-day Christians pine for “getting back to the first-century church.” I think, which one?
Here’s what I think happened.
Jesus was an amazing person who inspired a group of unschooled peasants so much that they would die for him (although they did all bolt after his crucifixion). Jesus went on and on about good triumphing over evil when the kingdom of God was christened. Jesus didn’t have in mind an armed insurrection. He envisioned that God would intervene as He had for the heroes of old—Moses, et al.
The point is, the disciples were expecting miraculous occurrences. They were in a suggestable state.
Then Jesus died, which devastated the disciples. They had been so sure that God had been behind Jesus! Then he stayed dead. In their grief, one or two of them—possibly just Peter—had a vision.
Then those disciples—probably just Peter, who was the most grief-stricken—shared this experience with the rest of the gang. And the rest were all too willing to swallow it. God was behind the whole thing! He was going to triumph over evil after all! Pretty soon, a few of them—encouraged by Peter’s vision—had their own encounters with the risen Christ, perhaps in a dream. They were an uneducated, probably gullible, crowd that believed in a magical universe.
These resurrection stories were told and retold and aggrandized—for example, Jesus walking through solid walls, people poking their fingers into his wounds. The stories just got more and more fantabulous. People rising from their graves after the resurrection and walking around among the, presumably, startled (and grossed-out) populace. Three hours of total darkness.
A perfect example of a made-up post-resurrection story: the ascension.
If God had really had resurrected Jesus, why wouldn’t He leave Him on earth? Wouldn’t He actually have done more good down here? If Jesus wanted to set up a literal kingdom of God down here, that’s the best way to do it, seems to me. No absentee landlord business. And if what he really wanted to do was just set up the kingdom of God in people’s hearts, then that still would have been the best route. Just think how a pep talk from the flesh-and-blood Jesus would have bolstered the troops. Or think about the killer gospel sales presentation you could put together. The disciples work the crowd into a lather with promises of an “abundant life” and such until . . . here’s the guy we’ve been talking about! And Jesus appears from behind the curtains.
I mean, the ascension is just so corny. God doesn‘t live “up in the clouds.” You can almost hear the slide whistle as Jesus ascends. The ascension is just the cockamamie story that was stitched together by flat-earthers to deal with the embarrassing fact that, yes, Jesus rose from the grave but, sorry, he’s not around—like Joseph Smith’s golden plates.
In other words, they had to get rid of the body somehow.
So began the slow—and utterly human—process of creating the Christian Story through improvisation and falsification. I defy anyone to look at this one-step-forward-two-steps-back aimless process and say God was in control. It was a masterwork of human bumbling.
Which is par for the course. Every time there’s been a “move of God,” as Evangelical say, it can be explained through natural processes and human activity. Not that there isn’t a God.
He’s just not one to monkey around.
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