Christian Mysteries

Salon is a strange virtual place for an article titled: “Jesus’ Resurrection: What Really Happened?” I have italicized “really” because this word is usually associated with empirical reality. I was therefore surprised to read:

Huge questions confront anyone thinking about Jesus. Did he really rise from the dead? Was there an actual Resurrection? If so, what would that look like? A large number of Christians throughout history have imagined a resuscitation, refusing to countenance the slightest hint that the Resurrection should be regarded as something beyond human understanding. I myself would argue this: life and death are mysterious, at best, and the membrane between the living and the dead is a porous one, perilously thin. Jesus rose from the dead, the scriptures say. I see no reason to doubt this.

These may be huge questions in theological settings but in most salons they really are not mysterious. When biological organisms give up this mortal coil, they are dead. None have ever been observed coming back to life. I see no reason to doubt this.

Because it seems to be the season for ruminating about such matters, the New Yorker asks: “Is There Justice in the Book of Job?” This presents a thorny theological problem:

The Job story is bewildering, from beginning to end. How could God, being God, allow Satan to seduce him into destroying a good man? More important is the moral: that we have no right to question him for doing such things. (God, for all that he says from the whirlwind, never answers Job’s questions.) Furthermore, the Book of Job seems to claim that all wrongs can be righted by property. If everything was taken away from Job, the problem is settled by God’s giving it all back, mostly twofold—fourteen thousand sheep for his seven thousand, etc. As for the ten dead children, in this case Job gets only ten back, but the new daughters are more beautiful than any other women in the land.

For people who take the Bible seriously as an explanation of life and as a guide to right conduct, all this is mysterious.

Indeed. This is a right proper mystery, in stark contrast to Jay Parini’s poetic claim that life and death are mysterious, a “perilously thin membrane.”


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6 thoughts on “Christian Mysteries

  1. Peter Deppisch

    Maybe the ending of Job where he gets it all back is a “happy ending” add-on by an editor who could not leave stark reality alone.

  2. Sabio Lantz

    Interestingly, I just watched the Tamil 1948 film “Harischandra” about the classic ancient story which inspired Mahatama Gandhi. It had the exact same horrible morals written about above. Bad ideas span many cultures.

  3. dylan

    Why do you generally show contempt for Christian ways of thinking but are all ears and sympathy for any aboriginal ideas that don’t conform to modern science?

  4. Sabio Lantz

    @ dylan,
    I think that is a great question for a whole post by Cris. I think his answers would be enlightening. [although I wouldn’t say “don’t conform to modern science” but might say “are equally fictional in many ways” if I understood any aboriginal positions yet — but I really don’t and Cris has helped me see that and am still learning from Cris, though I like posting my doubts too.

  5. Cris Post author

    It is indeed a good question. I’m looking forward to answering and it does deserve an entire post. It took me several years to arrive at my current position on this issue and I’ve never before been forced to articulate it with any clarity. So Dylan’s question is welcome.

    The post may have to wait a bit, as it’s finals time and I’m leaving town on Wednesday morning. But I’ll get to it as soon as possible and perhaps even the next post.

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