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What Does Christ's Resurrection Mean To You?


Mike
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As something of a follow up to my previous topic, I’d like to inquire into people’s take on or approach to the resurrection of Christ. Why the resurrection? Because it’s difficult to have a Christianity absent a compelling vision of the resurrection, given its historical and theological centrality motivating it as a religion. For biblical literalists, the question “What does the resurrection mean to you?” is relatively straightforward. But from the standpoint of liberal theology’s deconstruction of this literalistic approach, people can be left wondering, Why then be a Christian at all? Indeed this was one of my problems upon returning to Christianity. It is always easier to take something apart than put it back together.

So, the question I ask is, What does the resurrection mean to you?

I'm in the process of trying to articulate a response to this myself. :)

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Mike,

 

From the TV series Joan of Arcadia - a little girl representing God in that episode says that the resurrection is about our ego being shattered so we can go to a deeper spiritual understanding.

 

The resurrection is also about the grace experienced in the way of the cross down to the outcast and the marginalized.

 

Dutch

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Hi Mike,

 

It seems to me people were first called Christians because they were followers of Christ. Since that time the organized church system has set up its dogma and doctrine on what it believes you must believe to be called a Christian. Perhaps progressive Christianity as defined in the 8 points has no such church dogma or doctrine.

 

As far as the resurrection goes, what difference does it make to one whether he believes or not? Is it not God we seek and follow that is the very substrate of our existence and lives within each or do we really need to have a position on the ressurection to experience God? Is not our life our real testimony or is it in the answers we give or formulate in such theology that indeed has a show of wisdom but lacks in depth of experience? Rather than an answer to the question, "What does the ressurection mean to me?" I would ask, Since I know nothing of a resurrection except what I have read, what difference should it make in my relationship with God?

 

Just some questions to consider.

 

Joseph

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When I think about resurrection I am reminded of a comment attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador to the effect that if he should die (and he was assassinated shortly thereafter) he would rise in the Salvadoran people. I think of Jesus' resurrection in much the same way. I see it in that great host of folk who have pursued causes of peace and justice over the last two milennia. For me, they are the embodiment of the resurrected Jesus, somewhat akin, I think to what Marcus Borg calls the "Post-Easter Jesus." And it is Jesus seen in the lives of this great cloud of witnesses that I hope has authority over my life and actions. It is in this context that I can think of Jesus as Lord.

 

I am a member of a small but very active and activist Protestant congregation. If it were not for such groups, I think that I might find it difficult to go to the trouble of calling myself a Christian. But as it turns out, there are many such congregations, some like Glide Memorial in San Francisco might even qualify as megachurches. But most are on the smallish side.

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Aside from hearing about it in church services, and reading about it in the bible though "family bible discusion", I haven't really given it much thought. According to how I was rased, Christs resurection should mean, aside from Christs death itself, just about everything to "growing christian".

The death-burial-and-resurection of Christ was a very promonent part of christianity growing up. The three were never preached on seperately, never talked about seperately, they were never apart. If I wanted to talk about one thing, the other two were injected into the conversation somehow anyway like they were inseperable triplets.

I shall give Christs resurection some thought and get back to you on that. I'll also think on some of Joseph questions.

All this exploring is very exiting. I hope you come up with some threads based on the death and burial. I find them all interesting, but they're best discussed apart in my opinion.

 

Kyler.

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Thanks for the responses, all.

 

Joseph, I agree with you that ultimately, or existentially, one’s relationship with God can be quite independent of one’s position on any dogma or creed. That’s even a good thing. What you say about one’s life being one’s real testimony is interesting and rings true to me.

 

It is only that, from my understanding, the resurrection, or perhaps, as grandpawombat pointed out: the experience of the post-Easter Jesus - that Jesus still lives on, has possibly been Christianity’s most basic identifier since its beginnings. It has remained a powerful sign or symbol through the ages. As such it seems to hold an important status and merit some reflection and exploration. The theme of death and new life is certainly one with obvious spiritual import. As Dutch said: shattering the ego, making room for what is spiritual.

 

In my own personal life, I had no idea how the resurrection and the Christian narrative in general might be truly relevant to me until I found myself standing before some very moving stained glass windows at my church. Particularly there is an image of the empty tomb with two angels standing on either side. There is also an image of the risen Jesus. It dawned on me that this kind of artwork is not meant to convey a realistic scenario but to evoke a response, provoke the imagination, and play with the unconscious. It brings with it its own reality, a sacred reality. I still have no definite idea about how to answer my own question, but the reality I glimpsed in that stained-glass has invited me to explore it further.

 

kyler,

Many churches, too, talk of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection as if that's all that he ever did or ever happened to him, forgetting about the life he lived and what he taught and did, which is at least as important. :)

I remember in my old church that the "gospel" was only that Jesus died and rose again. It was almost like he never lived.

Edited by Mike
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Mike thank you so much for this topic. It is a very valid issue and also, for me, raises one of the most important issues facing the progressive today, that of the metaphysical aspect, or lack thereof, of Jesus.

 

As for the resurrection, there are two main points that I would like to throw into the ring. The first is a personal faith-journey notion. I quite like Borg's point that one can suspend any kind of decision about the resurrection as the central message of Christ was one of active and altruistic acts of love, compassion and social justice, and that is what we should be concentrating on. I can accept that notion readily. What I find difficult personally is to accept the outright rejection of a resurrection. This is because, for me, my faith is based upon a relationship with Jesus NOW. By that I don't mean an emulation of, or an adherent to, though both are important, but rather a communicative relationship with a risen Jesus. As my faith relies on this communication, then Jesus needed to have, I guess, 'conquered the grave'. Now was this done bodily or in a Spongian spiritual way? Well I can accept either notion, as long as there is a concept of a Jesus that one can have a relationship with now. The second reason I don't think one should reject outright the notion of the resurrection is that it places an implied limit upon the power of the limitless divine. An aspect of the resurrectin which I love is the notion that it serves as a big YES! Yes, this man Jesus IS the fullest revelation of me. YES, his great commandment to love one another IS the right thing. YES, the golden rule SHOULD be your goal. YES! And to emphasise this point, the limitless Divine does something beyond any kind of natural phenomenon, breaking all the laws of nature, to show us that YES, this man was special, and was showing us the way.

 

Anyway, that's just my opinion about the resurrection, a matter for a personal faith introspection I guess, but thanks for the opportunity. I also wanted to raise something which I probably should devote a new post to but it seems so relevant here. I guess the essence of the question is; Faith or Philosophy? I am a little nervous raising this because I imagine it can be quite emotive, but it needs to be raised I think. The resurrection is one of many, though perhaps the most important one, aspects of a metaphysical Jesus. One of the things I LOVE about the PC movement is its emphasis on concentrating on the teachings and messages of Christ and his 'altruistic imperative', if you like. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that many progressive authors, and perhaps many on this message board, feel that adhering to this altruistic imperative of Jesus is enough, manybe more than enough, to call themselves Christian, and any kind of metaphysical aspect can be set aside or, at the extreme, rejected outright. Now I should say categorically that I don't feel that those adherents of a metaphysical Jesus hold some kind of moral superiority to those of a 'teacher' Jesus. What I want to ask is, once that metaphysical aspect is removed, should the epithet of a 'faith', also be removed, and replaced by the description of a 'philosophy', akin to Existentialism, or Stoicism, or Platonism or, relevantly, Buddhism, which many view as a philosophy rather than a faith. I ask this because I imagine a conversation between a Christian and an Atheist, working in a soup kitchen. The Atheist asks why the Christian is giving his time to help the poor. He states he is a Christian and feels that Jesus's central tenant was the altruistic imperative. The Atheist asks if he believes in any of the metaphysical aspects of Jesus. The Christian says no, not really. So the Atheist remarks, 'Well I am here for altruistic reasons, I am here because I hold compassion for the poor and wish to try my hardest to achieve social justice for the disenfranchised of the world. Tell me, why would I need your faith? We are doing the same thing, for the same reasons. What is the point of being a Christian then, when I am achieving the same results by being an atheist?'.

 

This is an issue which I struggle with, I must say. Just like this question of Christ's resurrection, if we reject all the metaphysical aspects of Jesus, and become simply a movement for social justice and change, a wonderful thing in of itself, do we cease being a faith, and become a philosophy? One could, I guess, approach the atheist with a univeralist and pantheistic notion of discovering the divine within all of us, and we are all divine. Is that enough to be a uniquely 'Christian' position though? Anyway, I hope I haven't hijacked your great topic Mike, but I had to get this all down.

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(snip)

Anyway, that's just my opinion about the resurrection, a matter for a personal faith introspection I guess, but thanks for the opportunity. I also wanted to raise something which I probably should devote a new post to but it seems so relevant here. I guess the essence of the question is; Faith or Philosophy? I am a little nervous raising this because I imagine it can be quite emotive, but it needs to be raised I think. The resurrection is one of many, though perhaps the most important one, aspects of a metaphysical Jesus. One of the things I LOVE about the PC movement is its emphasis on concentrating on the teachings and messages of Christ and his 'altruistic imperative', if you like. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that many progressive authors, and perhaps many on this message board, feel that adhering to this altruistic imperative of Jesus is enough, manybe more than enough, to call themselves Christian, and any kind of metaphysical aspect can be set aside or, at the extreme, rejected outright. Now I should say categorically that I don't feel that those adherents of a metaphysical Jesus hold some kind of moral superiority to those of a 'teacher' Jesus. What I want to ask is, once that metaphysical aspect is removed, should the epithet of a 'faith', also be removed, and replaced by the description of a 'philosophy', akin to Existentialism, or Stoicism, or Platonism or, relevantly, Buddhism, which many view as a philosophy rather than a faith. I ask this because I imagine a conversation between a Christian and an Atheist, working in a soup kitchen. The Atheist asks why the Christian is giving his time to help the poor. He states he is a Christian and feels that Jesus's central tenant was the altruistic imperative. The Atheist asks if he believes in any of the metaphysical aspects of Jesus. The Christian says no, not really. So the Atheist remarks, 'Well I am here for altruistic reasons, I am here because I hold compassion for the poor and wish to try my hardest to achieve social justice for the disenfranchised of the world. Tell me, why would I need your faith? We are doing the same thing, for the same reasons. What is the point of being a Christian then, when I am achieving the same results by being an atheist?'.

 

This is an issue which I struggle with, I must say. Just like this question of Christ's resurrection, if we reject all the metaphysical aspects of Jesus, and become simply a movement for social justice and change, a wonderful thing in of itself, do we cease being a faith, and become a philosophy? One could, I guess, approach the atheist with a univeralist and pantheistic notion of discovering the divine within all of us, and we are all divine. Is that enough to be a uniquely 'Christian' position though? Anyway, I hope I haven't hijacked your great topic Mike, but I had to get this all down.

 

Since Mike raised the question in his original opening post here "Why then be a Chruistian at all?" , then it would be appropriate to address here as long as it doesn't turn into a debate. If it does perhaps we will move it to that area. JosephM (as Moderator)

 

 

Adi,

 

I like your story of the Christian and the Atheist. It does make a point. But I would have to also ask the question this way: since the one based his actions or found his approach to his works through the teachings of Jesus through Christianity, "Why should he not call himself a Christian or Progressive Christian for that matter?" Progressive Christianity does not (Point4) require that the Atheist become like us or call themselves the same as us to be accepted nor are we trying to convert him. It is enough that we live and work in respect and harmony in the soup kitchen. biggrin.gif Does not our behavior speaks louder than any words or beliefs or labels for that matter (Point 5) ? So, it seems to me, a long theological discussion on what we should be called or labeled, whether Christian or something else may be more important to him who puts more faith in theological correctness than one who might place more importance on experiencing the presence of God. From my experience, it seems to me in God's presence, all labels disappear. Is this not true for others?

 

Yet are we not more in line and focus on the main recorded teachings of Jesus as you have well articulated in your first two paragraphs of your post, which I left off, to not place too much emphasis on what we are called? Is it not enough to follow what we deem as the meaning of 'Christ' whether through teachings or our actual subjective experience and call ourselves Christians? Or must we defend to others a label of 3 vowels and 6 consonants as if that word could really define us in God? In my experience, labels serve more toward separation and to divide us from the 'other' then to unite us as one. So if one might be offended by my calling of myself as a Progressive Christian, I need have no such label in the kingdom of God and there seems to me nothing to defend as relates to "what is the point of being a Christian then?"

 

Just something to Ponder.

Joseph

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It actually is very simple for me, but it may be complicated for others to understand. *shrugs*

 

Coming from an upbringing in Judaism, I was always told - "just go to God directly, He will listen." Well, great! I am glad He will listen, but how do I go directly to Him? It never made much sense, and since I never received any guidance on how to develop a relationship with God from any Rabbi or Sunday/Hebrew school teacher, or even my parents or grandparents - I sucked it up and figured it was in my own hands to figure this all out. So at the age of 20, I found myself taking on the religion of Witchcraft to find these answers. While walking through this religion for six years - I found myself at the same dead end as I did in Judaism. It wasn't until I found myself around some people who not only believed in God, but had something else that was different than most people I knew from years prior. I was wondering what it was - and when I found out about this concept of having a relationship with God, I was intrigued. And I didn't fully understand it yet actually until very recently (even though I was saved five and a half years ago). And what has helped me understand how to have a personal relationship with God is accepting the fact that God created a man, His son, to be the mediator between us. That I am able to speak to Christ, and through Him, God relates to me; and I to Him. And the only way I have found, in my findings for my relationship with Him, that this could be accomplished is to have someone die before me in order to allow this outlet between myself and God to exist. Death does things to people - especially ones who come back to life after near-death experiences. I have never experienced such a thing in my natural life - but in my spiritual life, I have. And through this, I have been able to better relate to God through Christ - deepening my relationship with Him.

 

So the resurrection for me means that God desired so much to relate to me, even in my sinful nature, that I needed someone to die for me (in sin) so I can better relate to Him.

 

I am not sure if that is clear - but it is the only way I can express how I view it for my own life.

Edited by faithdrivenmom
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First I’d like to point out that it doesn’t bother me at all what anybody here thinks about the resurrection. My question was intended to evoke everyone’s personal thoughts on the matter, not so much to inspire debate about what qualifies one to be a Christian. “What does the resurrection mean to you?” The resurrection for me is a matter of personal devotion, not something that everyone needs to have the same view about.

 

Adi Gibb,

I enjoyed your post and will be thinking about it. It seems to me that many of the progressive Christians I’ve talked to are actually at root quite "metaphysical" in their approach to life and faith, they just don’t make their metaphysical intimations a point of contention by creedalizing them. I think perhaps, and I think what Joseph is saying is- that doing so sets up walls of division where there really need not be any to do the work of Christ and have a relationship with him.

For me personally, Christianity and the resurrection do, as you say, have metaphysical import. If they didn't, I would probably not feel compelled enough to participate in the Church.

Edited by Mike
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To me, Adi’s post seemed to really grasp the PC issues on the resurrection and the question of faith vs philosophy. It’s good to see a balance between the “altruistic imperative” and the “metaphysical aspect” -- a willing suspension of disbelief. Especially like the point that “faith is based on a communicative relationship with a risen Jesus” -- resurrection seen as an ongoing process rather than a one time event in the past -- happening now or not at all.

 

For me it’s hard to explain how Christianity could have spread as widely and taken hold as strongly as it did, unless those early followers were convinced Jesus rose from the grave – or at least didn’t outright reject the idea. The early movement did not consist of a new ethic or spirituality but the announcement of what had happened – the gospel. Resurrection was understood not as resuscitation of a corpse, but a transformation into a new mode of physicality-- a body animated by God’s spirit (soma pneumatikon) which transcends the limits and decay of mortal existence, yet is still solid and physical.

 

I see myself as very atypical of progressive/open/liberal Christianity because of my belief in resurrection (which I have never felt was a point of contention- can’t stand to be labeled evangelical). I didn’t call myself a Christian until I became convinced -- it was my access point to faith, a point which is different for everyone.

 

Does this belief enliven me when I’m feeling depressed or personally entombed? Only in the sense mentioned, of being able to talk to God through Christ. More often, the act of helping someone else is what lifts my spirits.

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I was also impressed by Adi's post. It presents both sides. It seems to me if you would poll PC's you would find some who believe in a physical resurrection, some who reject it and some who neither believe nor disbelieve. I fall under the last category since that belief is not necessary, in my experience, to experience God. That is not to say either view is true or false or that the belief is not necessary for another. As Progressives we keep in mind Point 2, acknowledging that there are other ways to God's realm and that they are valid for others.

 

From reading the responses to this thread, it seems to me, we can see that regardless of what "the resurrection" means to an individual, it is not the uniting factor of our common faith. However, perhaps, the unconditional acceptance of the other with the differing view is. And that to me is heavenly.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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Adi Gibb wrote

This is an issue which I struggle with, I must say. Just like this question of Christ's resurrection, if we reject all the metaphysical aspects of Jesus, and become simply a movement for social justice and change, a wonderful thing in of itself, do we cease being a faith, and become a philosophy? One could, I guess, approach the atheist with a univeralist and pantheistic notion of discovering the divine within all of us, and we are all divine. Is that enough to be a uniquely 'Christian' position though?

 

I don't think the dialog with an atheist poses much of a problem. I would tell the stories that inform my reality. Stories about Jesus as the Son of God, as the Great teacher, etc. I would then ask the atheist for the stories of that inform their reality. They might talk about logic, empiricism and evolution. That would be respectful dialog. Challenging one another's reality is not - at least not on the first date.

 

I wonder if thinking about the meaning of "faith" would be helpful. "Complete trust, confidence or reliance" is #5 in my dictionary. To say "I have 'faith' in Jesus." could include a metaphysical element or not.

 

Enough words I guess. I don't know if this helps.

 

Dutch

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Adrian,

Food for thought, as usual! I believe that you and the atheist are acheiving the same ends in the scenario of the soup kitchen, even though your motivations are different. But you may end up behaving very differently in another scenario. For example, Jesus teaches extreme forgiveness and love for one's enemies. Your responses to a hateful extended-family member may be completely different. As a follower of Jesus, your motivation may come from a desire to reflect God's glory, making God's kingdom come. Ideas that touch the eternal. The atheist might be motivated by making the world a better place.

 

I remember reading a quote by a rabbi that said, "a lot of God's work is done by Christians." I am thankful that atheists and secular humanists love the poor. There are many people who don't feel the need for faith because there are so many distractions in life they don't realize anything more is missing or needed.

 

The atheist who has found that helping people adds meaning to life may not yet have discovered how the power of Jesus can help set us free from old destructive patterns of behavior, for example. I would ask the atheist what gives them hope when times are darkest. For me, it is knowing that God is going through it with me.

 

I'm going to keep thinking about this one! Janet

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Christ resurrection for me is an expansion or awareness of my consciousness. I love Jesus in the physical form and start my meditation with it. It is hard to love the impersonal so Jesus is a form I can love in the physical where he resurrects in my mind as Christ consciousness where I can enjoy an expanded consciousness in the impersonal God. Jesus was able to communicate with God directly so I see his role is to help me find out who I really am in the resurrection of my every potential. His resurrection from the physical to the spiritual is a vehicle that leads me to encounter the all-pervading God that is beyond the grasp of my lower mind. The form of Jesus helps me to love and resurrect myself from the lower mind and escape the nervous, dusty physical planet. This withdrawal from the physical is my resurrection where I realize that I am pure consciousness and not the body.

 

When I do not feel the unity with everything in the impersonal God the resurrection of Jesus helps me to work up enough momentum so I too can take part in a spiritual resurrection. My efforts are guided by the thought of his consciousness. Baby Jesus grows into a man, and my lower mind awakens to my higher self. The resurrection of my mind follows the crucifixion of my ego, just as the physical thought of Jesus ascended into the spiritual so also my mind ascends to a point of view where everything is in harmony.

 

Jesus resurrection for me is an intensification of faith transforming it into a vision, an experience and a mystical union. This spiritual vision is accomplished by sacrificing my lower mind into a submission, a moment where I give myself totally to God. My ego a kind of anxiety that ties my spirit down to the physical plane and allows no enlargement of my consciousness needs a resurrection. Thanks to the death, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus and his physical form, I can achieve wonderful spiritual heights. Jesus by his grace died for me and then rose again spiritually to resurrect my consciousness from my ego.

 

As a Christian I have chosen the powerful image of Jesus Christ to represent the expression of a tangential point that embodies the individual mind and cosmic mind as seen through the universal man I call Jesus Christ. It is not that the material world will one day dissolve into Jesus Christ, but that my lower mind's extroverted tendencies will disappear in order that the second coming of Christ might be perceived in my consciousness.

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I love Jesus in the physical form and start my meditation with it. It is hard to love the impersonal so Jesus is a form I can love in the physical where he resurrects in my mind as Christ consciousness where I can enjoy an expanded consciousness in the impersonal God.

 

Thanks so much for all you've written. I really like how complete this is: personal, impersonal, immanent, transcendent, Jesus, Christ, lower, higher consciousness,

 

Dutch

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Thanks so much for all you've written. I really like how complete this is: personal, impersonal, immanent, transcendent, Jesus, Christ, lower, higher consciousness,

 

Dutch

 

I second that. Nice post, Soma. :)

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  • 1 month later...

The ancient Christian Fathers and monastics who put together Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity seemed to live on a strange paradox, where they believed literally but seemed to have the eyes to see the deeper truths in the myths, stories, and teachings. And all at the same time.

I wonder if the literalist approach to reject any allegorical interpretation is a petty reaction to the enlightenment. As some liberal theologians have said.

 

So if one attempts to reread the scriptures as if they were reading them without all the baggage from the religion taught to you in the first place, you will see something somewhat different than the conventional inferences about the meaning of it all. At least this was my experience.

Reading into the mystics throughout the ages, and contemplating St. Paul's letters, it seems to me that the ambiguous interpretations of the meaning of the resurrection to be nothing new.

One thing I noticed was that Christ saved the entire world from death. The Gospels make little mention of and end-time judgment and eternal torture for infractions made in ignorance, sin. Another emphasis that I've been thinking about is how is resurrected here-and-now. In Mark's Gospel, the oldest, Jesus is seen as a young man in white robes. And there is no mention of an ascension.

The death is the complete death of the self, to be reborn while you are still alive. As the New Man. In the age of Christ, as opposed to the age of Adam.

Maybe the original Jewish sect of Jesus believed the happenings literally. But when Christianity spread throughout Europe, there seemed to be an emphasis on the deeper meaning of it all. There's influences and parallels from the Meditteranean mystery cults and Greek metaphysics, but the one thing those movements didn't have, were the teachings of Jesus, one with a true apprehension of God.

Sorry to get a little off topic.

Edited by Shekinah
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