Friday, January 1, 2010

Christ’s Resurrection & Ours – Refuting Hyperpreterist Rubbish

If hyperpreterist treatment of words & concepts wasn’t already too myopic (they like to think they are “consistent” for crowbarring words & concepts into one meaning), the hyperpreterist treatment of Christ’s resurrection compared to the believers’ resurrection is the most flagrant example.  Yet, you’ll see they aren’t as “consistent” as they think.

The hyperpreterist argument is that the believers’ resurrection, whether advocated as corporate & past or as individual & future is to be considered non-physical.  When a historic Christian points out that Jesus’ resurrection was clearly physical & that Jesus’ resurrection is the pattern for the believers’ you’ll see hyperpreterist turn into amazingly flexible eisegetical gymnasts.

First, they will try to tell us that the believers’ resurrection isn’t supposed to be like Jesus’ because Jesus was sinless & his body was not supposed to see decay. (Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31, Acts 13:34-37)  But wait!!! This contradicts another hyperpreterist notion.  Hyperpreterists often try to make the case that the Fall of Adam & the “day he died” (Gen 2:17) had nothing to do with Adam’s physical “decay”…that Adam would have died a natural, biological death whether he had sinned or not.  Thus, another hyperpreterist contention is that Jesus was only restoring what was lost from the Fall & according to most hyperpreterists, physical death was not what was lost & so not what would be restored.  So, what does it matter whether Jesus’ body saw decay or not if it wasn’t about physicality?  It seems a rather misleading thing then for the Bible to put so much focus on the condition of Jesus’ body if it really has little to nothing to do with restoring even the physical pre-Fall condition.

If a hyperpreterist’s fails to make a case for a Jesus’ “not to see decay” distinction, they sometimes will change course & try to tell us well, Jesus’ post-resurrection body was different than his pre-resurrection body.  For proof, they will cite passages such as Jesus walking through walls (John 20:19 & John 20:26).  From this, we are supposed to think that Jesus’ post-resurrection body wasn’t really altogether physical but the hyperpreterists seem to forget a few things about Jesus’ pre-resurrection body.  Even in His pre-resurrection state, Jesus walked on water (Mt 14:26).  How did that happen?  I mean it is scientifically “unreasonable”.  As a matter of fact, Jesus makes clear that His post-resurrection state was not that merely of a “spirit”.  We see in Luke 23:36-43 a clear answer to the hyperpreterist notion that Jesus had some super-body.

Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.”  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.  And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.  And He took it and ate in their presence.

Here we see Jesus taking several steps to prove to the disciples that He is not a mere spirit.  He tells them directly He is not like a spirit.  He has them feel His hands & feet.  Finally when they are still not convinced, He eats food…in their presence, since a spirit doesn’t require tangible food.  Yet, many hyperpreterists STILL do not believe Jesus’ post-resurrection body was the SELF-SAME body as the one He took to the grave with Him.  So, the issue ISN’T about a “different kind of body” post-resurrection, but rather that Jesus could & did perform the same miracles before & after His resurrection.

Lastly, when Paul spoke about the resurrection of the believers he claimed to be teaching the very same resurrection as the Pharisees (Acts 23:6-8).  The question then is, what kind of resurrection did the Pharisees teach?  Did the Pharisees teach a mere resurrection of the spirit or did they also advocate a resurrection of the physical body? (read here)
Even from the biblical sources about the Pharisees, it is obvious that they believed in a physical resurrection, otherwise it would be nonsense for the Sadducees to pose the question of, in the resurrection whose wife a woman would be after having customarily marrying the brother(s) of her deceased first husband & then eventually dying herself. (Mat 22:23-33, Lk 20:27-36)

It was the intent of the Sadducees to make the whole notion of a resurrection appear foolish & “unreasonable & illogical”.  Jesus silenced that trick.  But perhaps the hyperpreterists’ will point out that Jesus said that in the resurrection people would be like angels…hence spirits.  This does not negate that Jesus’ resurrection was physical, that Paul claimed to be teaching the same resurrection as the Pharisees which was physical.  Plus Jesus said LIKE angels.  He did not say they would BE angels…hence spirits.  Taken together with all the other text, to conclude Jesus was advocating a mere spiritual resurrection is nonsense.  There are many associations that can be made as to being LIKE angels, such as not procreating or no longer having to maintain the federal headship of man & wife, which would be within the context of the question posed by the Sadducees about who’s wife she would be considered.

But in case someone still doubts that Paul was teaching a physical resurrection, let us look at his speech before the Athenians at Areopagus.  Everything seemed to be going along fine until Paul mentioned the resurrection of the dead. (Acts 17:22-34)  At the mention of the resurrection of the dead, the Athenians “mocked/laughed at” Paul.  Why?  Perhaps the reader will assume it is because the Athenians, like the Sadducees didn’t believe in ANY kind of resurrection.  But the Athenians were likely to have been Epicureans & Stoics which indeed some do advocate an afterlife of sorts but as a mere soul or as some sort of atomic, bodiless existence.  So, the objection to Paul’s notion of a resurrection of the dead could not have been that the Athenians were rejecting life after death in any form – they clearly object to the notion of a resurrection of the PHYSICAL body.  If Paul didn’t mean a physical resurrection, he certainly could have clarified that he meant a soulish resurrection like the Athenians themselves believed, & thus no mocking would have taken place.  Both the Athenian & now the hypepreterists find this notion of a resurrection of the dead, something to be laughed at & “mocked”. 

To compound their disconnect from historic Christianity, hyperpreterists will often pose the hypothetical question, “How can God reconstitute every atom of each person’s physical body?”  They will cite as case the situation of Roger Williams, the Baptist preacher & founder of the state of Rhode Island who was buried under an apple tree.  Hyperpreterist teacher David Curtis references this issue:

Have you ever thought about how the Lord will put all those decayed bodies back together. Will He re-gather and reassemble all the scattered atoms and molecules which composed individual bodies at the time of death? This problem is addressed by M.C. Tenney in his book, The Reality of the Resurrection:
When the body of Roger Williams, founder of the Rhode Island colony, was exhumed for reburial, it was found that the root of an apple tree had penetrated the head of the coffin and had followed down Williams’ spine, dividing into a fork at the legs. The tree had absorbed the chemicals of the decaying body and had transmuted them into its wood and fruit. The apples, in turn, had been eaten by people, quite unconscious of the fact that they were indirectly taking into their systems part of the long-dead Williams. The objection may therefore be raised: How, out of the complex sequence of decay, absorption, and new formation, will it be possible to resurrect believers of past ages, and to reconstitute them as separate entities?
This problem of joint ownership of atoms and molecules is a big problem. After death, various body particles returned to dust, reentered the food chain, got assimilated into plants, eaten by animals, and digested into countless other human bodies. At the resurrection, who gets which atoms and molecules back? As you can see, it can get quite complicated. (source)

As you can see, the hyperpreterists’ problem is that he thinks such a thing is too illogical, too unreasonable, too complicated.  It makes me wonder how these people have ever believed in the God of the Bible who created the world in six days, who formed humans out of dust, who saved Noah & his family while destroying all other humanity, who caused menopausal women to give birth, who parted seas, who brought forth water from rocks & manna from the sky, who caused Christ to be born of a virgin, who turned water into wine, who walked on water, who healed the lame & gave sight to the blind, who fed thousands on just a few fishes & loaves, who raised the dead, who caused the Messiah to resurrect with the SELF-SAME physical body after laying three days in a dark tomb, who does manifest Himself in three-personas but as one God.  If it is too unreasonable & too illogical for hyperpreterists to imagine a God who can cause dead bodies to rise, then how have they ever believed these other things?  It is then no surprise that many hyperpreterist HAVE INDEED begun to doubt these other wonderous things wrought by God.  Some hyperpreterists doubt God created the earth, doubt God created all humanity from the line of Adam & Eve, doubt that God flooded the entire earth saving only Noah & his family alive while all other humanity perished in that watery grave, doubt that Moses actually is the author of the first five books of the Bible, doubt that Christ was born of a virgin rather than a mere “young woman”, doubt that Jesus was raised with the exact SELF-SAME body.  Hyperpreterists seem to doubt the God of the Bible & instead fashion their own god & their own interpretation of the Bible against 2000+ years of historic Christianity, yet somehow, hyperpreterists STILL want to be considered part of historic Christianity??? There is nothing “biblical” about hyperpreterists.  And there is quickly becoming nothing Christian about them either.

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