In thinking about some of the popular, liberal views about Christian beliefs (triggered by the John Spong post, below), I posed myself the question: ‘How should you relate to people who call themselves Christians yet don’t believe what Jesus taught?’
Here’s some of what Paul has to say about the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-20 NIV): “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For, if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Another relevant area to look at, is Romans 10:8-10; ” … ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart’, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
Of course there are many reference in the Gospels, but Spong discounts most of those, because they are references made by Jesus, about himself. So. I’ve focused on Paul who was not with Jesus during his ministry and did not spend a lot of time with the other apostles in Jerusalem after Jesus’ resurrection; yet he too has a clear understanding of the importance of the resurrection – if it did not happen, we are to be pitied more than all men. It’s interesting that Spong actually believes that a type of ‘resurrection’ occurred where the man Jesus somehow broke the death/life barrier by some undefinable action by God. This belief is based more on Paul’s account (because it was written before the Gospels) and also the change that occurred to the disciples and others, after ‘whatever type of resurrection happened’. It is misinformation on Spong’s part, when he says that he believes in THE resurrection, (my emphasis – referring to the traditional view held by many theologians for over 1800 years) – clearly, by Spong’s own words – what he believes is different in two important areas – the who and the why. The other interesting aspect is that as he is a contributor to the Jesus Seminar – surely accepting any aspect of the resurrection is breaking their own guidelines regarding the supernatural. Yet, that’s their difficulty – there is always going to an area where they need to contradict themselves in order to maintain their position – that’s the nature of falsehoods!
In summary, I’ll stand upon my bit of rock and say: ‘If you don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus, our Lord and God – as traditionally understood, you are not a Christian!’ Is there a counter-argument to this statement?
[I’ll continue adding to this post – in an attempt to explore answers to my initial question.]