This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Forgotten Christian Values: The Resurrection

 Let nothing so disturb us, so fill us with sorrow or discouragement, as to make us forfeit the joy of the resurrection.

--Mother Teres

Why doesn't resurrection from the dead matter more to us?  It appears that hope in bodily resurrection was a desire a pillar for the faith and life, and a distinguishing mark of the early church.  Paul said of his personal goal in life:

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Phil 3:10-11)

Paul spent an entire chapter of 1Corinthians explaining the topic of resurrection, which likely means that the Corinthians had inquired about the subject among other things they asked him.  He also spends part of 1Thessalonians trying to explain how the resurrection will work.  Paul even remarks that false teaching about the resurrection cause some people's faith to be destroyed (2Tim 2:18).  The writer of Hebrews considered the resurrection of the dead to be an "elementary teaching of Christ" (Heb 6:1-2).  

Galen, a Roman Doctor in the 2nd century mentions that Christians were known for two things, remarkable sexual restraint, and a belief in the resurrection of the dead.  

Resurrection from the dead was clearly a pivotal part of Christian belief in the early church.  Is it just as important today?  Does the average person in the pew consider belief in a general resurrection of the dead at some point in the future to be a benchmark of his/her personal faith and discipleship?  In my experience, the answer is no.  In fact, in my experience, a striking number of church members i've encountered don't even believe in a bodily resurrection.  A greater number don't really think much of it, but instead focus on the state of existence immediately after death and think of that as the be-all end-all.  

So why?  Why doesn't resurrection matter more?  Why isn't this a critical part of the hope we have in Christ as it was for the early church?  Should it?  Shouldn't this be a point at which we seek to be like the first century in their belief?  How have we come to lose this emphasis on the resurrection?

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