Somehow this repost unposted itself after the first few comments. I’m reinstating it and will post something new soon.
Don thinks I ‘exaggerate’ when I bring up what the New Testament says are supposed to be the direct consequences of the resurrection. As he seems to have no knowledge of the things Paul and orhers promised would follow, I offered to provide him with chapter and verse. The easiest way to do that is to republish this post, slightly amended, from 2018. (Alternatively, there’s this rather more flippant take on the subject.)
I’m willing to bet Don now tells me I don’t know how to interpret prophecy like an ancient Jew would, that the promises are really metaphors and despite being written for members of the nascent cult they’re really meant for people thousands of years in the future.
The Christian faith rests entirely on the resurrection of Jesus. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15.17 & 19:
…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 of all people most to be pitied.
Of course neither Jesus nor Paul’s invention, the Christ, were raised from the dead; those encounters with him, described in the gospels are, like Paul’s, visions and sensations of his presence (later ‘the Holy Spirit’) embroidered in the 40 or more years between when they occurred and when they were recorded.
Let’s though, suppose that Jesus really did rise from the dead and work backwards from there. What difference did it make? More specifically, what does the bible say were the results and consequences of Jesus being raised?
The Coming of the Kingdom
According to the New Testament (Matthew 25.34; Romans 15.12; Revelation 20.4-6), the resurrection was a clear sign that the Final Judgement and Yahweh’s Kingdom was finally arriving on Earth. Jesus is made to predict it:
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16.27–28).
Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24.34)
Was God’s wonderful reign established here on Earth back in the first century? Was there a final judgement then? Were all wrongs righted, the social order inverted, and war and suffering abolished (Mark 10.31; Matt 5.2-11; Rev 21.4)? New Testament writers believed that following the resurrection, all of this would be happening –
in reality, none of it happened; not then and not since.
The Resurrection of the Dead
Did Jesus’ resurrection result in even more people rising from the dead? Paul said it would; he said Jesus was the ‘first fruits’, meaning the first of many, with others following him in being raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.20-21). Has any ordinary person – anybody at all – ever returned from the dead, long after they passed away? Not one; never mind the hundreds or thousands Paul and other early cultists had in mind. No Pope, no shining example of Christian piety, no activist or worker in the Lord’s vineyard has ever been resurrected during Christianity’s entire history. The dead have always remained stubbornly dead.
So no, this didn’t happen either.
Did the resurrection result in those who believed becoming ‘new creatures’? Paul said it would (2 Corinthians 5.17). He also said members of the new cult would be loving, forgiving and non-judgemental (1 Cor 5.12 & 13.14). There’s no evidence, from his letters, that they were, nor is there evidence from the long and often cruel history of the church. Christians today don’t always radiate loving-kindness either. Those who are caring and gentle before they become Christians remain so; those who are self-gratifying, vindictive or exploitative find a new context in which to be so. As I’ve said before, religion is like excess alcohol; it exaggerates the essential characteristics of a person, for good or for bad.
What it doesn’t do is make shiny ‘new creatures’.
So, what conclusions can we draw from this? Perhaps that nothing went to plan in post-resurrection Christianity. The promised results all failed to materialise. If the effects of the resurrection were and are not what they should have been, what does this say about their supposed cause?
If a storm is forecast and yet, when the time comes, there is no rain, wind or damage, wouldn’t we say that there was no storm?
If a woman said she was pregnant but during the ensuing nine months there was no physical evidence of pregnancy and ultimately no baby, wouldn’t we say she wasn’t pregnant at all?
If God’s Kingdom on Earth, brand new creatures, the resurrection of ordinary believers and the final judgement failed to materialise, wouldn’t we say there can have been no resurrection? The supposed causal event of all these non-effects really can’t have happened. Jesus died and like all dead people stayed dead. The visions, dreams and imaginings of his early followers gave rise to a cult in his name, one that, ultimately failed on all levels to deliver what it promised.
There was no resurrection.
Pretty logical thinking, if you ask me. But of course, I’m not a Christian who sees through rose-colored glasses and finds “truth” in a 2,000-plus year old book.
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Since you invite me, I’ll add a couple of comments:
Neil: Of course neither Jesus nor Paul’s invention, the Christ, were raised from the dead;
Don How do you know? The consequences that followed certainly point to a resurrection, including the unlikely conversion of Paul, which happened btw within just a couple of years after the resurrection.
Neil The Christian faith rests entirely on the resurrection of Jesus.
Don That is right. So how did it the first followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, the very place the resurrection occurred and where it raised the most opposition, persist? And persist to the place where Paul thought it necessary to hunt down the people of the Way and arrest them even in foreign cities?
Neil What difference did it [the resurrection] make?
Don Oh my! What a great question! I am just reading First Peter and noting the admonition Peter had to believers in Galatian and Asia. Condensed, he told them to live good peaceful lives, to be kind and gentle, to submit to the authorities, and even to their masters if they were slaves. That behavior was sourced in the life of God within them, AND IT CHANGED THE WORLD. It continues to change the world.
Neil Christians today don’t always radiate loving-kindness either.
Don Oh my goodness. You don’t know the Christians I know. I know men and women who have given their entire lives to serving others in difficult and sometimes dangerous places. They are doctors and nurses in remote hospitals. They dig wells in north Africa and Guatemala to provide clean water for people who did not have it. Thery run rescue missions in my city and cities around the world caring for people living on the street. They go to Ukraine to provide food and medical care in the war zone. They go to every natural disaster I know of in the USA to provide food and medical care and rebuild homes. AT THEIR OWN COST. I could go on. So, what is this “not radiating loving-kindness?”
Neil [N]one of it [the return of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom] happened; not then and not since.
Don The kingdom of God is present in the lives of believers. As Jesus said when he said “the kingdom is within you.” (Luke 17:21) And that is what we see in those who are following Jesus. There really has been no delay. But there is also the promise that God’s kingdom will be fully present with the return of Jesus as king. That will not happen until the gospel is preached in the whole world: “This Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) There are other signs as well that must happen before the return of Jesus: “But immediately after the suffering] of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky.” (Matt. 24:29, 30)
You cannot quote little pieces to make your case when these passages contradict your interpretation, passages that are actually in the context of some of the verses you quote.
And right on cue, Don’s insupportable excuses for why the promised results of the resurrection failed to materialise: ‘None of what you quote means what you think it means; you’re taking it out of context (really?); its metaphor; there’s still a chance it’ll happen some time soon; I know one or two nice people.’
You also ignore some of what I say to make your own unrelated, ridiculous points: fake Peter insists slaves should submit to their owners – and this ‘changed the world’? Sure it did.
All pretty pathetic, Don. You merit no more of a response than this.
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I rather expected you to provide the verses that prove your point regarding the return of Jesus. But no. However, there is no deadline.
First, my point wasn’t about the return of Jesus; it was about the promised effects of the resurrection (as you very well know). The verses cited all relate to that. You did look them up, didn’t you, and bothered to read the ones I quoted directly?
I have of course addressed the so-called second coming before. You’ll find all the verses you require here, though I doubt you’ll read it: https://rejectingjesus.com/2020/12/02/what-second-coming/
I’ve not published the rest of your very long comment as it is a non-sequitur; no-one was arguing that things like revenge and cruelty have changed the world for the better.
AND IT CHANGED THE WORLD. — No, the resurrection didn’t “change the world.” It may have changed many of the people living during the first centuries, but mostly it was the group that met under Constantine’s order to declare Christianity as the State Religion and birthed the Catholic Church — which was quite strident in their evangelical efforts.
Meanwhile, Buddhism, Taoism, The Baháʼí Faith, Confucianism, Hinduism, Jainism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Taoism also exist and have their own beliefs, which do not include the resurrection of that Jewish guy.
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Something that puzzles me (the rendering of immaterial beings) is that people believe they can see immaterial things. A pictorial technique can make it look possible, but… And the aura of the divine: Where does all of the light come from? The dream of resurrection of a personal savior is the hook for the scam of monotheism. Jesus led the way to eternal bliss. GROG
Why is it not possible for people to see immaterial things? We see with the mind as much or more than with then eyes. If the mind can conceive of immaterial things we can see them. Often skeptics declare that what Paul saw was a hallucination. If so, he saw something that was not material. We all dream. When we do we see things that are not material. If there are immaterial beings such as spirits, why would it not be possible to see them?
We can’t see immaterial things because they are not material. In order to see something light is needed. Here is an interesting video about we “see” inside of our brain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyu7v7nWzfo&t=454s
Seeing something in the mind isn’t seeing it, it is imagining it. Look at a painting of an immaterial divine being. It is an artist’s depiction of such using a painting techniques and paint.
I can imagine a heavenly place, but I know it exists only in my mind. Cheers. GROG
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