Full Text for I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body (Text)

Qtnnrn~itt q nlngira 4nttt111y Concinlling LEHRE UNO W EHRE MAGAZIN FUER E v.-LuTH. H OMIl.ETIK THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY.THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Vol. XVI March, 1945 No.3 CONTENTS Page The Lord's Prayer, the Pastor's Prayer. G. H. Smukal ......... _._ ...... 145 I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body. w. F. Beck ...... _ ......... _ ... 153 Sermon Study on Heb.12:1-6. Theo. Laetseh ........... _ .......... _ ..... _ ......... 169 A Definite Need in the Field of New Testament Textual Criticism. w. Arndt _._. ____ ._ ............................ _ ................ 180 Outlines on Gospels Adopted by Synodical Conference ............ _... 187 Theological Observer ........................... ................................ _ .... c ••••• _ ••• _ ••••• 199 Book Review _ ........................................ _ ................................... _ .. _ ..... __ .. 212 Ein Prediger muss nlcht aJlem wei- den. also dass er die Schafe unter· weise. wie ale rechte Christen sollen seln, sondern such daIleben den Woe!- fen we ren. dass de die Schafe nicht angrcifen und mit f "lll;cher Lehre ver- fuehren und Irrtun J~1Jehren. Luther E.s lst kein Ding, das die Leute mehr be! der K1rche bebaelt delU1 die gute Predigt. - Apolouie. An. 24 If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare hJrnselt to the battle? -1 COT. 14;8 Published for the Ev. Luth. S. od of Mis:;ouri, Ohlo, and Other States CONCORD PUBLJSBING BOUSE, Sf. Louis 18, Mo. I'BIIHD IN 0'. 8. 4. I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body 153 measure of our gratitude. We must warn against the vain r epeti- tion of the Lord's Prayer and against the disdainful criticism offered by the vainglorious Pharisee against the brevity of the model prayer, which punctures and deflates his airy and breezy verbiage. We must warn against the complaint that the Lord's Prayer is too comprehensive for concentration on the desire to be expressed. We must warn against the errorists who hold that prayer is a means of grace by which God imparts to us His mercies. We must rather remind our congregations that prayer is our sacrifice and offering to God and our means of exercising power with God. Power with God! In gratitude for grace and mercy received, in view of the world's needs and the Church's wants, in the con- viction of our utter dependence on the Father, for the solution of our pastoral and personal problems, let us pray, let us pray more than we ever prayed before. It is not a new thought that the world is"ruled by the Christian through his fervent prayer. Who, then, should be most powerful but the pastor? You pray the First Petition , and what happens? God's nanle is hallowed! Is not this wonderful? You pray the Second Petition, and what happens? God's kingdom comes! Is not this amazing? You pray the Third Petition, and wha.t happens? God's will is done. Is not this glor ious? Most certainly, your prayer influences the course of tlns world and the progress of your congregation and the affairs of your home. Our prayer is the solution to the mystery of history every- where. Power with God! G. H. SMUKAL (To be continued) I Believe in the Resul"rection of the Body The upper house of the Convocation of Canterbury, Church of England, has decided to delete the phrase "resurrection of the body" at cremation ceremonies. One bishop said that young people scientifically trained are "not so much indignant as amused at the phrase." Whenever they reach these words in the Apostles' Creed, they must experience a limp in the tongue. A similar expression of doubt in regard to the resurrection of the body appear ed last Easter within the American Lutheran Conference. It was issued by C. J . Soedergren, D. D., "author of a number of books on exegesis, former professor at Augustana Theological Seminary," in an article, "R esurrectio Carnis," in the Augustana Quarterly, April, 1944, pp. 111-126. (This ar ticle will be r eferred to here as S.) Soedergren speaks of the resurrection of the flesh as a " 'doctrine' frightful in content and fateful in con- sequence," "the 'eschatology' of thousands to this very day" (S: 112) . "the mater ialistic doctrine espoused even now" (S: 113) . It is due 154 I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body to a "traditional bias" (S:121). He raises the question "But is not the resurrection of the 'flesh' possible?" and answers it: "All things are possible with God which are in harmony with His nature and in line with His will. But is it necessary? Is it r easonable? To both questions we answer, 'No.' And is it Scriptural?" He urges that the truth is likely to be hidden from "the theologians and Bible teachers"; "whether ... the disembodied soul misses 'this muddy vesture of decay' and must come back for the remains, is an open question today .... The things that are seen are tem- poral; only the things that are not seen are eternal. Matter is not reality. Only spirit is substantial" (S: 123). "Many passages point in the direction of at least a new surmise" (S: 124). The partial state)TI.ent in Eccl.12: 7 is quoted: "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (S: 126) . If this is to disprove the resurrection of the body, it is only by an a1'gumentum e silentio. We might with equal validity argue from the verdict of God in Gen. 3: 19: "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," that both soul and body will turn to dust and never become alive again. Our bodies, when we die, do turn to dust. They seem to crumble back into the same indistinguishable elements, principally the atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; these approximate neutrality, that is, they are undifferentiated by their origin in this or that human individual. Human bodies may be much like snowflakes: Not any two of billions of them, we are told, are alike; yet when they melt, they become drops of water, not one of which can be shown to differ from the other. Isn't this what God means when He says, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:19)? And what is matter? All matter is nowadays said to be elec- tronic in its substructure and essentially the same. According to physical theory the human body in its ultimate elements may be as intangible as diffused electricity. "Eddington says that if the adult human being could be compressed to its actual extent, it would form a spot so tiny that we should need a microscope to see it. And physicists think that even this all but vanishing rem- nant of extension can be resolved into totally nonexistent force." (Common Sense about Religion. McVeigh Harrison, 1931. P . 321.) But God breathed into our particular dust "the breath of life." And there is the difference. God has put eternity into the hearts of these forms of clay (Eccl. 3: 11). They dread death. Huxley, the skeptic, wrote, "I find my dislike to the thought of extinction increasing as I get older. It flashes across me at all sorts of times with a sort of horror that in 1900 I shall probably know no more than I did in 1800. I had rather be in hell." The inner being of • I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body 155 man rebels at the prospect that in a few years, perhaps in a few days, his warm body will be dead, loathsome, immovable, rotting in darkness. Olin Alfred Curtis says, "I will in my thinking and feeling make no terms with death. I hate death; I hate it everywhere - in garden, and meadow, and swamp, and forest- everywhere; it violates every noble thing in me; I long for a world where there will be no dead thing, where every created thing will just live, live, live forever!" If we think clearly, we shall not speak slightingly of the body: "That which is in the grave is only the slough that has been cast off by the liberated soul" (S:114). We shall look in vain for approval for this estimate of the body in such words as these of Paul: "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5: 8). The Bible also says, "All flesh shall see the salvation of God" (Luke 3: 6), and it calls the body of the Christian the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 6: 19) . This body is more than an accident, a garment, a temporary prison house of the soul. Michael, the archangel, contended with the devil over the body of Moses (Jude 9). Would he have struggled for that body if that body had no value, if it was to be only the food of worms, if it was to be scattered to the four winds and never to be restored again? From the beginning it was not God's intention to have the soul live permanently without the body. God intended man to be both soUl and body. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2: 7). Man is soul and body, not just soul. Alone, the soul stands there like the man of the house who calls himself "my family." There is something essen- tially incomplete about the soul until it is united with the body. Adam and Eve had both body and soul; death was injected into both; Jesus redeemed both. To complete God's plan of salvation, it is necessary for the body to be raised and to be established with the soul in glory. That is why "even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8: 23) . Not only the spirit of man, that "vital spark of heavenly flame," is to shine in heaven, but the censer, too, from which there rises the incense of worship, is holy to the Lord and is to be preserved forever. The truth about our bodies in heaven has elements of mystery in it (1 Cor. 15: 51) that will not be solved by human thinking. Nature knows no real resurrection. Despite all medical efforts at resuscitation, no organism once really dead is ever revived. The seventeen-year locust and the butterfly are only analogies, not 156 I BeJieve in the Resurrection of the Body examples. But the resurrection of the body is one of the elementary truths of Christianity (Heb. 6: 2) . And elements of mystery in this doctrine should not obscure clear Biblical statements in regard to the r esurrection of the body. "Flesh and Blood Cannot Inhel'it the Kingdom of God" The meaning of "flesh" is given in Rom. 7: "When we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the Law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. . . . I am carnal [ =fleshly], sold under sin. . . . I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. . . . I see another law in my mem- bers, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 0 wretched man that I am! Who 'shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So, then, with the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." "Flesh" is the bearer of the sinful impulse. "Blood" is a synonym since it mobilizes the energy of the flesh in the hot pursuit of sin. Our flesh is sinful by birth (John 3: 6). It is opposed to God and destroys itself: "To be carnally minded is death. . . . The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be. So, then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8: 6-8) . That is why "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Cor. 15: 50). These words of Paul do not deny the resurrection of the body, but merely the possibility of the entrance of our sinful body into the heavenly kingdom. We put off "the body of the sins of the flesh by the circum- cision of Christ, buried with Him in Baptism" (Col. 2: 11,12). Now, we are born of the Spirit (John 3: 6) . And "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5: 24) . Those who are in Christ Jesus "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ... . Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Rom. 8: 1,9) . "A Spiritual Body" "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body" ( 1 Cor. 15: 44) . Soedergren (S: 120, 121) says on this passage: "This spiritual body inhabits our material body in this life, is conterminous with it, but also independent of it, leaving it at death and con- tinuing to serve as the habitation and medium of the immortal self. Early writers called it the 'astral body.' .. . It was these disem- bodied celestial bodies in which Moses and Elijah appeared and conversed with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. These • I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body 157 were the bodies of Abraham, Lazarus, and 'Dives' in Hades, the body in which the penitent robber joined Jesus in Paradise, and the body in which Paul, 'absent from' his body of flesh, hoped to 'be at home with the Lord.''' Replying to these statements, we have to say that according to them the resurrection takes place at death. Then it is something already past. We let the Scriptures speak: "Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some" (2 Tim. 2: 17, 18) . The exegesis of other passages on the resurrection is forced by Soedergren to harmonize with this Tendenz: "'The hour cometh when all that are in tombs shall hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment' (John 5: 29). The passage may refer to a resurrection out of Hades. This possibility merits further attention. In such case it would have no reference to the decomposed bodies. And again - as in the quotation from Daniel- 'they' are not in any earthly tomb. Only 'the handful of dust.' . . . Weare at least not compelled (unless it be by warped predilection) by these words of Christ to bury our faith with a dead body in the grave" (S: 115) . The "resurrection out of Hades" is "the final resurrection of immortal souls" (S: 116). " 'H by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead' (Phil. 3: 11) . . . . The words contain no reference to any material body" (S: 116) . The other passages, such as Rom. 8: 10,11, are interpreted in the same way. "Scripture teaches clearly: . . . (3) a resurrection of the soul at the dissolution of the material body; (4) a final resurrection of the dead in Hades-possibly a resurrection at the end of each dispensation - for judgment" (S: 111). This number (4) leaves us reaching into thin air for meaning. The meaning which Soedergren assigns to "spiritual" we see more clearly in the following : "'But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).' Matt. 10:28. This can mean the spiritual or celestial body of 1 Cor. 15" (S: 116). "There is no Scripture to the effect that the physical body or our present form of existence is to be the object of future punishment" (S: 124). "Spiritual" in the words "it is raised a spiritual body" accordingly means "bodiless." The adjective in "spiritual body" has completely crowded the noun out of its tent. The word "body" is abused to mean an airy, immaterial variety of spirit without flesh and blood. "The true 'body' is not this temporary garment of 'dust,' but the invisible body, the 'celestial body' of 1 Cor. 15" (S: 124). Could we face Paul with such an interpretation? Would he have used "body" if he didn't mean "body"? t58 I Bel' ~ in .• ~ Resurrection of r Bod A aro,.w. 1jJUXLXOV is a body filled and controlled by the 'llUltTt, the sensory and earthly life. A aroJ.tIX It'VEUf.t<:rl;Lxov is a body filled and controlled by the IT'VEUJ.tct, the Holy Spirit. For in 1 Cor. 2: 14 the 'llUXLl