Monday, December 13, 2010

Give it away Goff!

The latest TV 3 Reid Research political poll spells the end of Goff's leadership (http://www.3news.co.nz/Goff-falls-further-behind-Key---poll/tabid/419/articleID/190496/Default.aspx). He is being slaughtered by Key. The stats say it all:

National 55.5%; Labour 31.2%; Greens 7.3%. The rest are also-rans: NZ First 1.9%; Maori 1.7%; ACT 1.3%; United Future 0.1%.

The preferred PM rankings are no better: Key 54.1%; Goff  6.8%; Helen Clark 5.3%.

A few things jump out of this: 1) National can govern alone so don't need ACT. They will have to make a call on Epsom, will they effectively stand aside for ACT or consign them to political history? I suspect the former because long term the centre right will need the extreme right, but is Rodney worth it? In recent years his hypocrisy has been exposed. 2) NZ First for all the noise about Winston's return are not making much of a dent. He is fish and chip wrapping now; 3) United Future is virtually dead in the water, can't see any way back for them; 4) Destiny are not looking likely to take over NZ, and we are well past the 5 year mark; 5) The Greens are doing well which is good environmentally but not so good socially in my view; 6) Goff has nearly dropped below Helen Clark domiciled in New York and retired from NZ politics! Unbelievable and embarrassing.

Surely it is time for Labour to move to appoint a new leader. They need to do so soon to allow that person as they go into an election year. Goff has no presence. His latest gaff over David Cunliffe/Caygill is one step too far. He looks more uncomfortable than Richie McCaw in a dress. It is time. The question is who will take over? NZ needs a strong left/right option moving ahead. They cannot simply let National dominate like this without putting up some kind of fight.

Looking at NZ politics from the perspective of Christian parties, the demise of United Future is the last gasp for the present. There is no Christian party option and Christians who want this can be said to have completely failed to achieve any lasting impact in NZ politics. In one sense this is good because 'Christian' parties are not really something I relate to. On the other hand, it is symbolic of NZ's Christian inability to do what is essential to the faith, work together in unity for a common goal. Surely, in a nation with the social issues we face, and with a gospel for the poor and creation, we can find enough people to get 5% of the population to support it.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Brian Tamaki and Others and The Abuse of the Notion of Being In Christ


Paul uses the language of 'in Christ' some 83 times and 'in the Lord' 47x (Dunn, Theology, 296-97). It is part of his participationist Christology. If we accept what appears on the Cult Watch website about all believers being Christs, there is a lack of understanding of the idea of what Paul means by 'in Christ.' BT is not alone in this, in my view, many theologians are little better flirting with the way in which Paul uses the idea. BT appears to think that as we are 'in Christ' we are 'Christs' ourselves. The implication of this could be that we are of the same status and empowered to the same level as Christ himself. He reminds me a little of contemporary theologians who argue that all humans are 'in Christ' by virtue of Christ being the 'elect one' and all humans are now participants of him, they just have to realise it. Another element of 'in Christ' thinking that is held by many today is believing that, as we are 'in Christ' through salvation, we are in some sense divine, a part of the Triune God, in an actual sense that leads to divinisation or theosis in an extreme sense.
It occurred to me as I pondered all this that Paul is misunderstood in his 'in Christ' thinking by all of the above; or better, each is imbalanced and twists or distorts what Paul really meant.

We can tell from Paul's broader teaching that he never meant 'in Christ' thinking to blur the line between the divine and created. Take for example Rom 1:18-25 where the essential problem of humanity is that they do not give thanks to or worship the creator as they should; rather, they worship the created. Idolatry for Paul, the problem the first two commandments focus on, not to mention the Greatest Commandment to love God with everything we have, is the essential problem of fallen humanity. As such, to elevate ourselves in any sense into the divine would be a total misunderstanding of Paul and a corruption; indeed, it would be falling prey to the essential sin of humanity, albeit in a different way. In 1 Cor 8:6 Paul makes clear there is one God and one Lord, Jesus Christ. We in no sense 'become God' when we are included in Christ at the moment of faith.

The idea that we are 'in Christ' before we are converted in some sense may be a nice idea theologically; however, it is flawed. Paul clearly sees humanity in two groups, those who are in Christ and those who are captive to the effects of the Fall of humanity in Genesis 3 they are 'in Adam' (e.g. Rom 5:12-21). You cannot simultaneously be in Adam and in Christ. What gets a person into Adam? Birth into a corrupted world where sin holds sway and sin, 'because all have sinned' (Rom 5:12). Getting out of 'Adam' and into 'Christ' is found through faith pre-Christ (e.g. Abraham in Rom 4) and post-Christ (e.g. Rom 3:21-31). We are 'justified by faith.' It may be on about 6 occasions that Paul refers to Christ's faith saving us (e.g. 'faithfulness of Christ; Rom 3:28 etc), but in the main our faith response to this Christ and/or God is what moves us into the status of 'in Christ.' It is thus a soteriological idea, we are saved 'in Christ' the realm of salvation.

Once we are 'in Christ' we in no way become Christ in a literal or ontological sense. Paul and the NT at no point speak of believers as 'Christs.' They are 'Christ's' in the sense of being 'of Christ' or owned by Christ, but they are not all Christs. There is one unique Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah, who came and lived, served, died and rose again to reveal God and path the way to salvation for all who would believe. To say we are 'Christs' is to fulfil the prophecy of many false Christs! We do not want that. He is the one unique Israelite king, appointed to rule the world, and to whom all will submit or be crushed under his feet. I choose to submit and not to usurp him, the sin of the garden!

So what does it mean to be 'in Christ'? Well it does not mean that we are Christs or God's ourselves. We never become divine, the ontological gap between the divine and the created remains. First, as noted above, it is a soteriological idea, we are no longer in Adam facing the consequences of sin including death and eternal destruction. We are one of the saved, being saved and will be saved people. Secondly, it means that spiritually we are included in Christ by the work of the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:11) who is in us. Thus we are united with Christ spiritually. This must not be misunderstood in concrete terms as if we are all little bits of Christ. Because BT sees Christ's resurrection as non-corporeal and so spiritual, he can argue this. If we hold to orthodoxy that Jesus is still incarnate, a man, a separate physical bodily individual, albeit gloriously immortal and risen, then he remains other to us. We are united with him in the Spirit. It is thus a spiritual idea. Thirdly, it means we are part of a people, those who by faith are also 'in Christ', whether from ancient Israel, from the Christian era, and in my view, from all over the world where faith in God is found. It is thus an ecclesiological concept in which there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; we are one people in Christ. We retain our individuality, our distinctives, our uniqueness, but are part of a people united by common faith and the Spirit. This people is a new humanity, the restoration of the original intention of God. Through the marking of the Spirit, we are citizens of heaven on earth, living in a fallen world and a rotting body, but spiritually united with God and each other through the work of the Spirit. It is an eschatological idea, we are out of the fallen people of God and in a new people. The visible manifestation of this people is the Church of God on planet earth. It is thus a spiritual union. Thirdly, we are participants in the work of this Christ, led and empowered by the Spirit with ethical attributes like love, and gifts like evangelist or prophecy or service etc (Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12-14; Eph 4:11-12). We participate in the sufferings of Christ as we minister on his behalf. In a spiritual and theological sense he is in us and we in him and so his work is extended, he suffers in us and with us and through us, and his work on earth is carried out through his 'body', the 'body of Christ', on earth. Thus, it is a missiological notion. It is terribly dangerous to push this further and say we are in an ontological and essential sense Christ. Any sense in which we are 'in Christ' is derivative and gifted to us on the basis of faith and submission to his lordship. So there is an irony here; we threaten our status if we cross the line. This seems to do so.

Confusion seems to come when people start to isolate themselves from others and in terms of their own importance and start to believe that there is no qualitative difference between Jesus the Christ and themselves as 'Christs.' They start to think that they are actually gifted more than the Scriptures tell us. The metaphor is pushed so that they are of the same status and level as the 'head of the church' and 'firstborn from the dead' Jesus Christ our Lord. They posit, ah, I am essentially on a par with Jesus the Christ. They find verses like John 14:12 which appear to say all believers will do the same things as Jesus and posit, if I just have enough faith I can be Christ to the world. Some do this at a corporate level believing the church itself is Christ on earth. The immediate problem with these ideas is that we are not perfected and our sanctification completed. Further, any 'in Christness' is due to being a part of Christ in submission to him and dependent on him and the Spirit. To go further actually threatens to sever this as we move from being creatures dependent upon God to the essential problem of Satan, Adam and Eve, Babel, and all sinners since; we believe ourselves to be above what we are created to be. If we and the church are literally Christs to the world, then we are rubbish and Christ has become corrupted for we are individually and corporately remain corrupted, subject to sin and flawed.

The same problems apply to eternity in my view. When we are completed at the return of Christ we do not become gods. There is one God. Sure we become divine, incorruptible, immortal and we have the same glorious body as Jesus Christ our Lord. Yet we remain creaturely, dependent, submissive, beneath. The picture of worship in Revelation is not of perfected humans standing around worshiping self or each other, but of the saved standing before the throne on which God and the lamb are found, worshiping God! Elders are falling before this God, Father and Son. Humans together cry praises to the one who is worthy! We may have some of the attributes of the divine, but we are no divine in the fullest sense of the word. And these are gifts on the basis of the one Christ's divinity, not our own.

The body of Christ is not made up of a whole lot of Christs, but is a people of God who all are part of the one Christ spiritually, ecclesiologically, eschatologically, missiologically and who are to live as Christ lived, out of service, love, humility, mercy, sacrifice, suffering and even death. They each have gifts imparted by God sovereignly and spiritually. They are to serve together in unity under Christ's lordship and the Spirit's guidance, in glorious koinonia and unity, to see the world know that there is a God and a Lord. They will rise and receive their eternal reward, eternal life and blessing. Yet they will remain humanly, in submission. Indeed, I would imagine that if any of us seek to rise above our station and claim to be divine, we will be in danger of being thrown out. Hopefully that will not be possible when we get there, but who knows?
So, I encourage you to think very carefully about all this. There are dangers everywhere. Our 'in Christness' is a gift, a status, an honour, a motivation to mission, to hope, to service; but it is not a ground for the ultimate hubris, where we claim to be gods. We are not. To God be the glory. Amen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus and Brian Tamaki


I got an email yesterday which connected me to an article on the Cult Watch website which discusses the latest claims of Brian Tamaki (see http://www.cultwatch.com/BrianTamaki.html). The site has audio of Brian Tamaki saying that the Jesus who died (Jesus of Nazareth) is not the same Jesus who came out of the tomb; rather 'the flesh Jesus died in the tomb.' Jesus then put off his 'flesh body' could become a 'life giving spirit.' He also claims believers are all God, 'they are the actual same divinity and substance of spirit as God.' He says that the church is made up of 'many Christs.' Assuming that this is the position of Bishop Tamaki, here I will deal with the first of these issues. Did Jesus of Nazareth enter the tomb and not come out? Is he merely a 'life giving Spirit?' If we take the Scriptures seriously the evidence points strongly away from this:
1. Mark 16
The ending of Mark is difficult with it likely that v.8 is the end of the original gospel. In these verses the women come to the tomb wondering who will roll the stone away (Mark 16:1-3). The stone is rolled back and they find a young man in white at the right side of the tomb (Mark 16:4-5). The man says in v.6, 'do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.' This is clearly the Jesus of Nazareth to which Brian Tamaki refers. The man then says, 'He has risen; he is not here.' Clearly, this refers to Jesus of Nazareth who supplies the subject of these verbs. The man goes on, 'See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you' (vv. 6-7). 'He' is the same one who was crucified and buried. He is now going to Galilee and there the disciples will 'see him.' Seeing here implies a real being not a phantasm, ghost or mere spirit. It is the same Jesus of Nazareth now risen from the dead.

We should also look at the two longer endings of Mark neither of which is likely to be original to the text. However, they both are early witnesses to the way the resurrection was understood. The shorter longer ending says: 'And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation (NRSV).' In this longer ending, Jesus himself shows it is the same person who went into the tomb who now commissions the disciples to take the gospel to the world.

In the long longer ending which features in many translations despite almost certainly being inauthentic, it is clear that the same Jesus is the one who is risen. The text is full of 'he' references involving appearances which are seen indicating that this is the same Jesus. I have highlighted the NRSV text to make the point.
9Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.  14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.'
Several things are of note here. The same one who rose is the one who appeared and who had cast out seven demons from Mary and the one the disciples had been with (vv. 9-10). This Jesus appears, is seen and speaks to them. There is nothing to suggest that this is anything other than Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and now risen from death.

2. Matthew 28
In Matthew's gospel which appears to use Mark as its foundation for the account, the women come to the tomb (Matt 28:1), there is an earthquake and a gleaming angel of the Lord descended and rolled back the tomb and sat on it causing the guards to be terrified (Matt 28:2-4). The angel then told the women that 'I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified' (Matt 28:5). The angel then says 'He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.' The third person personal pronoun 'he' is found in three successive verbs which clearly refer to Jesus of Nazareth. The final one refers to Jesus' earlier three-fold predictions of his death (cf. Matt 16:21-23; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). There is no question then that the same one who has risen from the dead is the Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified (v.5) and is now risen (v.6). In v.6 this is reinforced: 'Come, see the place where he lay,' again using a third person verb indicating Jesus. Thus, the same one who lay dead after crucifixion, is now risen. They are then told in v.7 by the angel to tell the disciples that 'he has risen from the dead' and that 'he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.'

If that isn't enough in v.9 Matthew writes: 'And behold, Jesus met them.' This is clearly the same person who predicted his death, was crucified, and rose from the dead. He is now with them. He speaks to them saying 'Greetings' (chairete). They take his feet and worship him indicating his corporality. One does not hold the feet of a phantasm or ghost. He is again named Jesus in v.10 and he speaks again and tells them to go to Galilee with the other disciples ('brothers') and 'there they will see me.' Again, this implies continuity and the same person who was not a mere spiritually resurrected being, but a visible bodily being, the same Jesus. In v.17 the 'saw him' and they are commissioned to tell the world (Matt 28:18-20). Without doubt, for Matthew, Jesus resurrected is Jesus of Nazareth in bodily form back from the dead. He can be touched and speaks. If Brian Tamaki is asserting that Jesus did not rise in bodily form from the dead, then his teaching directly contradicts Matthew.

3. Luke 24
In Luke's account the women go to the tomb and find two men in white (Luke 24:1-4) and the men speak to them. In vv. 6-7 they say 'He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.' In v. 8 the disciples remember his words. Clearly for Luke there is direct continuity between the Son of Man who was in Galilee and predicted his death (cf. Luke 9:21-22, 43-44; 18:31-34) and who is now raised. It is Jesus of Nazareth that is in mind of course.

In Luke 24:13-41 there are three appearances. The first is the Emmaus road where Cleopas and a companion meet Jesus on the road. In v.15 Luke explicitly states that 'Jesus himself drew near and went with them.' The Greek for 'Jesus himself' (autos Iēsous) is emphatic and clearly is the same Jesus crucified (cf. v. 19 Jesus of Nazareth). The use of 'him' through the subsequent verses then is this same person. In vv. 19-24 they recount exactly what happened naming him 'Jesus of Nazareth' and describing his ministry of deed and word and his empty tomb. Note it says in v.23 that 'he was alive' clearly indicating Jesus:
…their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25 And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
In the next appearance account, this continues. Note in v. 37 that the believers are confused and think he is just a spirit or a ghost. However, Jesus goes out of his way to demonstrate that he is not merely a phantasm or ghost or spirit, he is corporeal, and he is physical and bodily.

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39
See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."
40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.
44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."

In the above passage Jesus does a number of things demonstrating that he is bodily:
  1. He appears so that they can see him.
    He speaks so that they can hear him.
  2. He shows them his hands and feet so that they can see the scars no doubt.
  3. He gets them to touch him to feel that he has flesh and bones.
  4. He took fish and ate it.
  5. He reminds them of what he taught them previously.
These six things clearly show he is the same Jesus, dead and risen from death, and is a bodily being. There is one critical difference, his ability to translate from one context to another as he wants. As such, he is bodily and the same person but with different capacities of movement and appearance.

4. John
In John 20-21 John records his account of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb but the stone is rolled away (John 20:1). She gets Simon Peter and the beloved disciple (likely John) and tells them and they run and find the burial cloths in the empty tomb, after which they return home while Mary remained there (John 20:2-10). Two angels appear and speak to her and then Jesus appears (John 20:11-14). Note in v. 14 Jesus is explicitly named, Jesus. For John, the raised one is the same person his whole Gospel has been about to this point. Jesus speaks to her and eventually recognises him and she is told to tell the others, she does. He is named in vv. 15, 16, 17 as Jesus.

In vv. 19-23 Jesus appears to the disciple in a locked room, again showing his capacity to move at will across time and space without hindrance. He is named Jesus again in v. 19, 21. He gives clear demonstrations of his bodily existence revealing himself to them, showing them his hands and side, speaking to them, breathing on them.

Thomas does not accept the truth of this and eight days later he appears again this time with Thomas present and again enters a locked room, speaks ('peace be with you' [v. 26]) and gets Thomas to touch his hands and side leading to Thomas ceasing to doubt (vv. 26-29). Again he named Jesus in v. 29 and all uses of he (e.g. v. 27) indicate that it is Jesus that is in mind.

In John 21 he appears again to seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee fishing. Without doubt this is Jesus who is in mind. He gives further demonstrations of his corporality by cooking them breakfast (vv. 9-14).

5. Acts  
Acts is written by Luke and is part two of his work. In Acts 1 Luke names him Jesus, showing complete continuity with Luke i.e. it is the same bloke back from the dead. It is 'This Jesus' in v. 11:
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7
He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."


5. 1 Corinthians
In 1 Cor 15:3-7 Paul recalls the resurrection appearances of Jesus. He names him as Christ. Using Nestle Aland 27, prior to 1 Cor 15:2 in this letter Paul has refers to Jesus 22x and Christ 48x. He uses the constructs Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ interchangeably 62 x (31x each). Clearly the 'Christ' he mentions in v. 3 is Jesus of Nazareth who is the Jewish Messiah now raised from the dead and so, Jesus Christ Lord. So in this passage 'he' is clearly one and the same:
 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
The problem in Corinth is stated in v. 12: 'Now if Christ is proclaimed as being raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?' This tells us a few things about the problem. First, the Corinthians, unlike Tamaki, believed that Jesus rose from the dead. If they did not believe this, Paul would challenge them much more harshly as for Paul, belief in the resurrection of Jesus is critical to salvation (cf. Rom 10:9-10). Secondly, it tells us that while they believed in the resurrection of Jesus, they denied the resurrection of believers. They were influenced by Greco-Roman thought which rejected the idea of bodily resurrection. They likely believed in a spiritual resurrection, the very thing Tamaki attributes to Christ. I would recommend readers get a hold of N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God at this point which goes through the data with a fine-toothed comb very well indeed.

Paul's argument from here builds on the premise of Christ's resurrection and argues for the resurrection of believers. Just as Christ was raised bodily, so will believers be. This will happen at the culmination when Jesus returns and there is an instantaneous transformation of the believers' bodies into incorruptible bodies like that of Jesus. Jesus' body is described as a spiritual body a brilliant phrase which captures the continuity and discontinuity of Jesus' body and the believers' bodies in their resurrected state. 'Body' (sōma) implies that Jesus was bodily and we will be too. 'Spiritual' (pneumatikon) indicates that it is a body animated by the Spirit of God and so incorruptible. Unlike Adam's body which is subject to death, it is fully empowered by the Spirit, incorruptible, immortal and glorious (cf. Phil 3:21).

Conclusion: Brian Tamaki and the Resurrection
Clearly, if Brian Tamaki is saying that Jesus Christ did not rise in bodily form then he is incorrect in his belief. Of course, all this depends on whether or not this is the case and I am sure that as the story breaks we will gain clarification. This view is not biblical in any sense of the word. It is not in agreement with the explicit teaching of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul. If he is claiming to have had a revelation that supersedes the biblical data; this is the path to disaster, a path paved many times before by false teachers. Jesus clearly rose from the dead in bodily form, his corpse reanimated and filled with the Spirit, incorruptible, immortal, glorious and powerful. To accept this teaching one must abandon the essential evangelical principle of Sola Scriptura in which Scripture is afforded priority in the formulation of theology. One has to denounce Scripture as of secondary importance to personal revelation.

So, unless Brian Tamaki comes out clarifying what he has said in line with the teaching of the Apostles and Word of God, all true believers should think very seriously about what they are involved in at Destiny. On the other hand, if he comes out and states that Jesus did rise from the dead in bodily form it would be wonderful for the Kingdom. The truth is that every orthodox church must stand for the gospel upon which it is which founded; namely, the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, the same man who was crucified and buried.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Alien Life? Yeah Right.

So all over the news yesterday was the great headline that a great discovery had been made greatly increasing the possibility that there is alien life out there (e.g. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=10691723). It turns out that all had been found was some bacteria that can grow not only off scoffing phosphorous but arsenic. As far as we know, 6 elements are required for life, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and phosphorus. It is a very interesting discovery for sure, but it proves little to me. It at best opens up the possibility that there are life forms that do not need all 6 to be around to survive, as they can convert one or other. This being still needed all 6 elements, and converted one element close to phosphorous on the periodic table into the missing building block. Such life will still need to be generated in the first place and live in conditions conducive to life. In terms of alien life, we would still have to find a way to get to the millions of solar systems out there, survive the trip, and then explore.

The whole presentation was rather laughable, as it spoke of extra terrestial life. According to the website answers.com, extra-terrestrial means either: 1) adj. 'Originating, located, or occurring outside Earth or its atmosphere: intelligent extraterrestrial life'; 2) n. 'An extraterrestrial being or life form.' Thus it refers to life in any other context other than this world! This was found in our world! Did I miss something? What has been found is a microbe that differs. That is no surprise, there are many things that are amazing in the natural world and many others we are yet to discover.

The presentation was a window into the religion of scientism, of extraterrestrialism. Don't get me wrong, I would not be at all surprised if there is life out there. I am a theist and do not want to limit creator God to one tiny planet in which he engineered the emergence of life. But to jump from a microbe to an argument that the probability of life on other planets is plain spurious. The logic does not flow at all. This tells us there is life on earth, there are complexities to it, and tells us nothing about the rest of the universe. We are being told that science has all the anwers, there is no God/god, that life emerged spontaneously and it is out there, we just have to find it. Life on this earth in fact was likely seeded by aliens. This is a new dogma in my view. It is also part of the US government always seeking to justify programs seeking to find life on other planets, when we should be working to maintain life on this planet.

So, it is all very interesting but completely OTT and out of proportion. It shows that life is more diverse than we knew, something we have been getting to know anyway as we study life on earth.

It is also highly ironical that we have a whole lot of westerners denying the existence of God as unreasonable and without proof, yet they run around doing all they can to tell us that there is life on other planets, which has absolutely no proof except a little bit of deduction. This is terrestrialmorphism where we project our world onto others with no logic. Classic illogical argumentation. There is no proof that there is life on other planets and this gets us absolutely no closer to finding it or proving it. It does prove that there is life on earth! Ah, but we knew that. Of course there may be life on other planets, but we have no evidence at all. It also begs the question, how did life emerge? What agency generated it? Indeed, if life is found to be increasingly more diverse in this way, doesn't it add to the need to find a cause. The more complex we find our world, the less an explanation without external agency works. That is what converted Anthony Flew in the end.

So for me, rather than reinforce that there is alien life, it further shows the miracle of life on earth and the glory of the creator. How he went about his creation, now that is a good argument. Did he do so by a process of evolution, or through miraculous intervention without a process? That is interesting and we simply do not have sufficient information to know the answer.

So, I will now go eat some breakfast. It won't be arsenic, but that proves nothing except that I will live through it.