Debate Magazine

Christian Mysteries

By Cris

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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