Thursday, July 16, 2015

Death, Resurrection & Beyond - Part I - Popular Misconceptions


Many have been asking me for long about my understanding of resurrection.

① Who are raised from death?

Acts 24:15 ... there shall be a resurrection of the dead, BOTH of the just and unjust .

Dan 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt .
Joh 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear his voice ,
Joh 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
So, whether the resurrection is something that occurred in the past, or something that has to happen in the future, there is a resurrection for both the just and the unjust. This is irrespective of the understanding of the term resurrection.

② Where are the dead?

It caused no small stir in our neighborhood while a few human skeletons were unearthed while digging foundations for a house. Once the initial commotion settled down, the skeletons were removed and they carried on with the construction. Obviously, the decayable parts those dead have become part of the house's foundation.

It is demographically calculated that more than 110 billion human beings would have lived on this planet till 2015. Some Christian sources place this number at 12 billion. Since the latter number has a Christian origin, let us consider it for our discussion. World population as of 2015 is 7 billion+. It is obvious that we don't have 5 billion (12 - 7) graves in the world. Even if we reckon that 5 people were buried in a tomb, we don't have even 1 billion graves in the world. If there are a billion graves in the world, we should be able to see 1 grave for every 7 persons who are alive. For instance, in Bangalore, with a population of 10 million (as of 2015), there are hardly 0.1 million graves, that is 1 grave per 100 people.

It takes 50 to 60 years for skeletons to decompose, once the bones are decomposed, there is no easy way to know whether the soil of the ground we step on, the clay that kids play with, the floors, roofs and the walls of the buildings that we occupy, contain the decomposed bodies of dead human beings. Soil erosion may have taken the molecules from decomposed bodies to seabeds. Molecules from decomposed dead bodies may have become manure for trees and plants. The leaves, fruits or seeds of those plants and trees may have found their way into our food. And, there are many (including Christians and Jews) who were cremated and their ashes were sprinkled in mountain ranges and water bodies.

So, if Jesus' statement: "ALL that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth", has a literal application, a vast majority of the dead won't be raised. Remember, those excluded may include Christians who were thrown as preys in front lions and burned at stakes by persecutors!

There are Christian groups that believe that at the time of resurrection the dead, the souls/spirits of the dead would be re-assembled or reunited with their bodies. If this be true, God will have to keep track of every cell and molecule of the decomposed bodies and their movements.

There are other Christian groups who believe that at the end of the world, the earth would be repopulated with resurrected human beings (with a minority taken to heaven as saints). Even now, with a population of just over 7 billion, we have severe shortage of resources. Think of the situation where the planet has to sustain 12 billion or even 110 billion human beings. Based on a literal understanding of some passages from Revelation, someone may argue that since there won't be any seas and oceans in the world to come, it won't be hard to sustain 12 billion people; but life cannot be sustained without oceans and seas.

③ Bodily resurrection is scary, weird!

Some Christian groups, authors and websites have thought of the consequences of bodily resurrection and have added clauses like " Deformity will be removed; defects will be eliminated.." I haven't seen them backing up their theories with scriptures. It is fairly simple to prove that they are scripturally wrong. All these people believe that Jesus was resurrected bodily. Was Jesus without defect while He was raised from death? NO, He had the injuries and wounds inflicted by those who tortured and killed Him! (Joh 20:25-27).

Rest of the Christianity is looking to a bodily resurrection, where dead bodies, coming out of the graves, hearing the voice of the Son of Man at His coming. No doubt, there are a couple of passages that give the impression that the resurrection of the dead has to be bodily resurrection.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also;in the likeness of his resurrection.

If you believe in bodily resurrection, please consider the following possibilities:

It is estimated that every year nearly 450,000 people die of oral cancer. Imagine all of those millions of people coming back to life, with disfigured faces.

More than a million people die in road and industrial accidents every year. Imagine them coming back in resurrection without their crushed heads, chopped of limbs.
There are those who died in fire mishaps. Very often what is left of them is just ashes. Many cases they are charred beyond recognition. Think of them coming back to life with charred bodies.

Not merely Hindus, even Christians and Jews opt for cremation. In some cases the ashes of the cremated bodies are preserved in urns. (How long?) In many cases, the ashes are sprinkled in water bodies and hilltops (as in the case of Mahatma Gandhi.

How about those who were killed in spacecraft disaster? Will their bodies which are scattered in outer space be regathered and reassembled?
  • Then there are those who died in atomic and nuclear bomb explosions and not even a trace of their bodies were found.
  • There are many factors that make bodily resurrection scary and impossible.
  • Have you heard of the term: Zombie Apocalypse? If not, try to watch Michael Jackson's video named Thriller and decide for yourself whether you are looking forward to such a future.

They say that those who are raised from death would be brought to human perfection. Now, "human perfection" is a relative and subjective term.
  • Will a child which died while it was 5 years old be raised up as a 5 year old child or as an adult?
  • Take the case of a man who dies at 25 in an accident, while his wife was pregnant. His child goes on to live till he is 45 and dies in another accident. If the theory which says that the dead would be brought to human perfection at the time of resurrection is right, will this dad be resurrected as a 25 year old young man and his son be resurrected as a 45 year old middle aged man?

④ The gender question.

While doing my (re)search for this topic, I came across people who claim that we will be raised with the same gender as we were before death, because our genders determines who we are, it is our identity, and so on. If our gender or genitals determine our identity, what happens to be the identity of transgenders (transsexuals)? Will they have to continue in their plight throughout the eternity? How about intersexuals? (Unlike transgenders who feel their psychological gender is different from their assigned gender, intersexuals have mixed physical genitals, for instance, someone who has all the makings of a woman having testicles.)

In resurrection, will transgenders be forced into accepting their assigned gender identity, though it goes against their minds? Will the "defects" and "deformities" of intersexuals be rectified and will they be given a new gender identity?

I am sure that these are things theology folks have not thought about. Their theology is based on appropriating David's statement: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14), they do not take into account those who are not so wonderfully made.

The purpose of gender difference is to increase, multiply and to replenish the earth. As regards our relation with God we are all SONS or progeny or heirs of God, irrespective of our present genders. Similarly, we call God as Abba, Father, because we are his progeny and He is our progenitor, not because God is a male. (Gal 4:6)

Look at the following gender neutral scriptures, though they use the word SONS.
Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the SONS of GOD, even to them that believe on his name:
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of GOD, they are the SONS of GOD.
Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the SONS of GOD.
Gal 4:6 And because ye are SONS, GOD hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. ⇐ We call him as father because we are His SONS.
Php 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the SONS of GOD, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Heb 12:7 If ye endure chastening, GOD dealeth with you as with SONS; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
1Jn 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the SONS of GOD: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
1Jn 3:2 Beloved, now are we the SONS of GOD, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
In the resurrection we will all be SONS (progeny, heirs, children) of God, irrespective of what gender we are now:
Luk 20:34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:
Luk 20:35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
Luk 20:36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
If the resurrection is not about marrying and a giving in marriage, then why gender identity at all? Did not Jesus tell us that flesh avails nothing and spirit is all that matters? (John 6:63)

to be continued in Part II

in Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal

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