Author Topic: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered  (Read 23267 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2007, 12:40:47 PM »
I am a layman. I read a variety of authors, but I have stopped reading Borg. He does not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus (Crosson and Borg talk of some spiritual resurrection), and I think he disbelieves all other miracles, including the incarnation. So, I conclude that he is not worthy of the time it would take to read it, and he definitely is not worthy of the money that I would be transferring to his pocket by reading his book.

To quote Borg about resurrection:

As I conclude this exposition of Easter, I return once more to the question of history or parable. As is apparent, I find these stories to be powerfully true as parables of the resurrection. it does not matter to me as a Christian whether any of them describe events that you or I could have witnessed. It does not matter to me whether the tomb was empty.

But I am aware that a historical question can still be asked: what happened? What I am confident of is this. The followers of Jesus had experiences of him after his death that convinced them that he continued to be a figure of the present. Almost certainly some of these experiences were visions; it would be surprising if there weren't any. I have no difficulty believing Paul's statement, "I have seen the Lord," or the exclamation of the disciples, "We have seen the Lord." I think many did.

I also think there were nonvisionary experiences of the risen Jesus. though not narrated in the New Testament, they are implicit. I think his followers felt the continuing presence of Jesus with them, recognized the same Spirit that they had known in him during his historical life continuing to be present, and knew the power they had known in Jesus continuing to operate -- the power of healing, the power to change lives, the power to create new forms of community.

And I think these kinds of experiences have continued among Christians ever since. I do not think experiences of the risen Jesus were confined to the forty days between Easter and the ascension of Jesus. The "forty days" are referred to only in Acts 1:3, and it is clear that the author is not speaking about calendar time, for the same author in Luke 24:50-53 reports that Jesus ascended on the evening of Easter day. Moreover, Paul's experience of the risen Jesus on the Damascus road occurred at least a few years after the "forty days" between Easter and Jesus's ascension.

For me, the truth of the claim "God has raised Jesus" is grounded in these kinds of experiences. not all Christans have had such an experience, but some have. Morever, it is not necessary to have one in order to be Christian. Jesus's words to thomas remain true today: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
[Jesus, p. 288]

To quote Borg about Jesus' resurrected body:

What kind of existence does the risen Jesus have? Does the risen Jesus exist as a body? If he does, it is a very strange kind of body. The risen Jesus is no longer a figure of flesh and blood. Even if one takes seriously that one could touch him, as is suggested in some of the Easter stories, it would be ridiculous to imagine that the risen Jesus has a flesh-and-blood body. How much would he weigh? How tall would he be? Does he still have to eat? These are ridiculous questions -- which is exactly my point. According to the Easter stories themselves, the risen Jesus is not confined by time and space, but enters locked rooms, journeys with his followers without being recognized, appears in both Galilee and Jerusalem, vanishes in the moment of recognition, and abides with his followers always, "to the end of the age."

If the risen Jesus exists as a body, it is a body so radically different from any meaning we give to the word "body" that it seems misleading to use the term. Paul himself seems to recognize this. He affirms that Jesus exists as a body, but then immediately speaks of it as a "spiritual body" and explicitly contrasts it to a "physical body" of flesh and blood (1 Cor. 15:35-50). What is a "spiritual body"? It seems idle to me to try to assign meaning to the notion by speaking of a "glorified body" or "transformed physicality," as if these phrases make the matter more intelligible. We should leave it in the language of paradox as Paul does -- a "spiritual body" -- and simply admit that the risen Jesus transcends our categories of body, flesh, and blood. Epistemological humility and ontological modesty are called for.
[pp. 288-289]

My comments: I said this in another meeting, but if we take the Easter stories as historical facts, rather than "parables," I think we run into problems. While the gospels have many points of agreement in their "empty tomb" accounts, none of the resurrection appearances occur in more than one gospel. They are all different. They are so different that they can't be reconciled.

In Mark and Matthew, the disciples are told to go to Galilee and that they would see Jesus there. Matthew records an appearance to the disciples in Galilee. However, in Luke, the risen Jesus appears in Emmaus and then Jerusalem, where he tells them to stay in Jerusalem, then Jesus ascends at Bethany. John, written after the synoptics, includes appearances in Jerusalem, and, in an epilogue, one in Galilee.

One can look at these differences and try to harmonize them and create a time-line of exactly what they think happened during those days after the crucifixion. But then whose "truth" is it? If one has to add or subtract from the biblical stories to make them fit together, doesn't that become the "truth" of the harmonizer more than the actual biblical text?

I will ask two questions about Mark 16:8b, "they [the women at the tomb] said nothing to anyone, for they werre afraid." Do you believe that this historically and factually true? Does "Mark" believe that it is historically and factually true? Does "Mark" want you to believe that it is historically and factually true?

I have argued that this is much like those parables that leave the hearers wondering what happens next. Will the barren fig tree bear fruit? Will the older brother join the party? I agree with Borg that such parables go beyond their literal and historical meaning. They are meant to evoke responses from the hearers/readers. Will we bear fruit? Will we join the Father's party? Will we tell anything to anybody about Jesus' resurrection?

I also presented the extended quotes from Borg to indicate that he doesn't start with a belief, e.g., the dead can't be raised, so Jesus couldn't have been raised; but he starts with studying scriptures. What does the Bible actually say about the "body" of the risen Jesus? (And I had to do this 30 years ago to a reporter's question about the "physical" resurrection and I came to the same conclusions as Borg.) In some text the risen Jesus acts like our bodies -- he is touched. He eats. In other texts it is quite different from our bodies. It can't be touched. It appears behind locked doors. It is unrecognized by disciples. It disappears. We have the stories of Paul seeing the risen Jesus, which was a vision of a bright light and a voice, but not a physical body. We have Paul's arguments in 1 Corinthians about the resurrected body being something entirely different from our physical, earthly bodies. Is that the kind of body the risen Jesus had?

I think that the scriptural evidence is stronger in suggesting that the risen Jesus' body was different than our physical bodies, but I invite others who believe differrently, to show how scriptures supports the belief that Jesus' resurrected body was just like our bodies -- if that's what is meant by "a physical resurrection".
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Gladfelteri

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2007, 12:49:05 PM »
Anyone who preaches and proclaims any other Jesus than this does not belong in any pulpit, at any time, in any place, for any reason, but deserves only the Apostolic anathema of Gal. 1:8.

And I rather doubt we should spend much time with a book by a man who denies the realities of the Christian faith like Borg does. One doesn't have to read these books to be aware of their general content. Book reviews and book notices will do.
Yes . . . but to debate effectively and intelligently with those who come along from time to time who like what apostates like Borg, I think you still need to know what he says, how he says it and how he uses (or twists) nuances of the Greek.  Sometimes hurling anathemas does nothing but push those still on the fence off that fence in the wrong direction when the fence-sitter comes to think Borg's views cannot be opposed effectively.  "It is just good business to know what the competition is up to." - Sam Bernstein, Habadasher, Warrensburg, MO, ca 1955. 

Blessings,
Irl
« Last Edit: July 24, 2007, 12:51:14 PM by Irl Gladfelter »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2007, 12:56:59 PM »
There is nothing "transformational" about a Jesus who did not, bodily, truly and actually rise from the grave and whose death was not the death of the second person of the Most Holy Trinity.
What do you mean by "bodily"? What does it mean for you to say that Jesus bodily, truly and actually rose from the grave? What is the meaning you attribute to your statement?

I'll ask you specifically, Do you believe that Mark 16:8b is a true and actual account of what happened?

Another question, when did Jesus ascend? Was it on Easter evening as Luke reports, or 40 days later as Acts reports? (I could also ask, can human, physical bodies levitate? And where would this physical body end up as it floats upwards? Did it cease being a physical body that needed to breathe at some point in its ascension? When did it turn into the type of body that enters the heavenly realm?)

Quote
And I rather doubt we should spend much time with a book by a man who denies the realities of the Christian faith like Borg does. One doesn't have to read these books to be aware of their general content. Book reviews and book notices will do.
I have no doubt that you wouldn't spend your time reading Borg. That's part of the reason I started this discussion. You might find Borg more orthodox than you had been led to believe. You might find yourself learning from someone you formerly thought had nothing worth reading. In that sense, it's a bit like the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Perhaps like the Jew in the ditch, we can find ourselves being helped by a Samaritan, someone we had thought was an enemy.

Let me ask: Is there a reality in the parable of the Good Samaritan without it being historically and factually true?
« Last Edit: July 24, 2007, 01:00:03 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Richard Johnson

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2007, 01:11:50 PM »
My comments: I said this in another meeting, but if we take the Easter stories as historical facts, rather than "parables," I think we run into problems.

Funny thing about that. I "run into problems" any time I encounter the power of God. I've grown to expect it. I try to follow the mother of our Lord, you know . . . moving as quickly as I can from "how can this be?" to "Let it be to me according to your word."
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

ptmccain

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2007, 01:15:23 PM »
I have no doubt that you wouldn't spend your time reading Borg. ... In that sense, it's a bit like the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

The only point of comparison between Borg and the Parable of the Good Samaritan is that Borg is like the robbers who beat the man and left him for dead. This is what Borg is doing to the only, holy, catholic and apostolic church with his "scholarship" and all faithful Christians who are afflicted with it via pastors who find it oh-so interesting, instructive and helpful. As for all your other questions Brian, perhaps you would do well to refer back to your basic Christology courses and back to the Book of Concord's presentations on Christology in the Formula of Concord and in the supplemental document to the BOC, The Catalog of Testimonies. If you never have had the opportunity, please read a genuinely faithful Lutheran presentation on Christology, such as we have it in the Formula of Concord in the Book of Concord. Martin Chemnitz' The Two Natures in Christ would offer you far more fruitful theology than the apostate musings of Borg.

At the recent death of my father, I can not tell you how grateful I am for the ministry of a pastor who did not regard the accounts in the Scriptures about Christ's resurrection to be parables. I would not wish such a pastor on anyone.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2007, 01:42:31 PM by ptmccain »

ptmccain

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2007, 01:16:06 PM »
My comments: I said this in another meeting, but if we take the Easter stories as historical facts, rather than "parables," I think we run into problems.

Funny thing about that. I "run into problems" any time I encounter the power of God. I've grown to expect it. I try to follow the mother of our Lord, you know . . . moving as quickly as I can from "how can this be?" to "Let it be to me according to your word."

Richard you are positively antiquarian with these kinds of notions. Congratulations.

Gladfelteri

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2007, 01:16:26 PM »
Well, if Christ's resurrection was not a physical one, a stunning miracle, a suspension of the laws of Science through supernatural intervention which was an actual historical event which occurred in Roman Palestine at a certain place and time, then, as St. Paul was inspired to write, our faith is empty and we are still in our sins.  The only options would be to either revert back to some form of Judaism, some form of neo-paganism or vague gnosticism, perhaps, or look at alternate spiritualities, other world religions, (or none) or try to reconfigure Christianity as a philosophy and way of life like Buddhism in some respects but otherwise just move on.  Sorry, but personally, I can't do that.  Yes, Christ's resurrected body (a glorified body) was different from his before the resurrection (a glorified body) but I have no choice but to affirm that Christ's resurrection actually occurred physically as a supernatural event in actual space, time, and history.  

Denial of Christ's physical resurrection is nothing new.  It has been going on since the beginning of the Enlightenment - and by some before that.  But those who deny it are simply wrong.  Yes, Christ's resurrected body (a glorified body) was different from his before the resurrection (a glorified body.)  As for the details of just how it happened:  that was due to supernatural intervention, and is forever beyond explanation by Science.  Except for the eyewitnesses, who actually saw and interacted with the risen Christ, that has to be accepted on faith alone.  Personally, I have no choice but to affirm that Christ's resurrection actually occurred physically as a supernatural event which actually occurred in actual space, time, and place, and is simply a fact of history; "an inconvenient Truth."

Blessings,
Irl  
« Last Edit: July 24, 2007, 01:34:10 PM by Irl Gladfelter »

Gladfelteri

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2007, 01:17:31 PM »
Richard you are positively antiquarian with these kinds of notions. Congratulations.
Antiquarians rule !!   ;D

ptmccain

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2007, 01:22:42 PM »
Richard you are positively antiquarian with these kinds of notions. Congratulations.
Antiquarians rule !!   ;D

Reminds me of a quip I heard years ago:

What's true is not new and what's new is not necessarily true.

Gladfelteri

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2007, 01:27:47 PM »
I have no doubt that you wouldn't spend your time reading Borg. That's part of the reason I started this discussion. You might find Borg more orthodox than you had been led to believe. You might find yourself learning from someone you formerly thought had nothing worth reading. In that sense, it's a bit like the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Perhaps like the Jew in the ditch, we can find ourselves being helped by a Samaritan, someone we had thought was an enemy.
Yeah, you can learn some positive things here and there by reading someone like Borg.  No doubt about it.  But he is still apostate.  He is still wrong in his positions, his convoluted arguments, isogesis (IMHO,) and conclusions.  

And I absolutely agree with ptmccain about Chemnitz' The Two Natures in Christ.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2007, 01:29:27 PM by Irl Gladfelter »

Richard Johnson

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2007, 01:31:11 PM »

Richard you are positively antiquarian with these kinds of notions. Congratulations.

Thank you, I think.  ;)
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2007, 02:00:09 PM »
Personally, I have no choice but to affirm that Christ's resurrection actually occurred physically as a supernatural event which actually occurred in actual space, time, and place, and is simply a fact of history; "an inconvenient Truth."
Borg would say, as he does in the book, "Fine. What does it mean?"

Even though you use the word "physically," you also admit that it was a different kind of physicality than Jesus had prior to the resurrection. I think that scriptures affirms that whatever type of body the risen Jesus had (and us at our resurrections) is different than the bodies we have prior to death. Paul uses different terms to indicate the differences in the bodies -- and this comes right after he affirms the necessity of Christ's resurrection and that he is the "first fruits" of those who are raised. (Thus I think the descriptions would also apply to Christ's resurrected body.)

seed vs. plant
earthly vs. heavenly
perishable vs. imperishable
dishonor vs glory
physical vs. spiritual
of dust vs. of heaven
mortal vs. immortality

I don't think anyone would accuse Paul of denying the resurrection of Jesus, yet he makes a contrast between earthly, physical bodies with resurrected bodies that are heavenly and spiritual.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2007, 02:01:16 PM »
Funny thing about that. I "run into problems" any time I encounter the power of God. I've grown to expect it. I try to follow the mother of our Lord, you know . . . moving as quickly as I can from "how can this be?" to "Let it be to me according to your word."
Are you admitting that you have become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit? :)
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2007, 02:38:45 PM »
As for all your other questions Brian, perhaps you would do well to refer back to your basic Christology courses and back to the Book of Concord's presentations on Christology in the Formula of Concord and in the supplemental document to the BOC, The Catalog of Testimonies. If you never have had the opportunity, please read a genuinely faithful Lutheran presentation on Christology, such as we have it in the Formula of Concord in the Book of Concord. Martin Chemnitz' The Two Natures in Christ would offer you far more fruitful theology than the apostate musings of Borg.
I'm not interested in what all those other might say about Mark 16:8b, but what you have to say about it. Is it a factual account of what happened or not? I believe that the Bible is our primary source, not the Book of Concord or Chemnitz or Borg. I believe that it is always best to go to the primary sources. Thus I ask questions about what the Bible says about Jesus' resurrection, rather than what the BoC or the creeds or other authors might say.

Neither Borg nor I are denying the reality of the resurrection of Jesus or for believers. (My father died six years ago. It is the reality of the resurrection and eternal life in heaven that gave us continual comfort during the 8 months of his terminal illness.) We are asking about the most helpful and fruitful way(s) of understanding the biblical texts.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

BeornBjornson

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Re: The Gospels -- Jesus Remembered
« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2007, 02:42:07 PM »
Pastor Stoffregen wrote:
Quote
Borg would say, as he does in the book, "Fine. What does it mean?"

There is all the difference in the world between asking and plumbing the depths of meaning of an event and Person that really happened and asking the meaning of a passage of fiction.  
Ken Kimball