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Norman Geisler, Evangelical Scholar On The Resurrection Of God


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Is there some reason this is unusual? Mainstream Christianity has always affirmed that Christ's resurrection was a physical, bodily event, and not just a spiritual reality or some symbolic happening. Just curious.

Take care, everyone :P

You've captured my thoughts exactly, rhino. This simply is Christian doctrine. My only qualification to Kerry's thread title would be that the physical resurrection is of God the Son. Was there some question about this, Kerry? Other than among liberal scholars (e.g., Crossan, Bultmann, etc.)?

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Jesus being fully God, as the Creeds state, it is God's Son, who is, quite literally, God. So that's why my title. And if this has always been doctrine, why on earth are we Mormons taking it in the teeth for saying God has a body of flesh and bones? Jesus Christ is the exact replica of the Father. The Greek word Charakter means this.

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Jesus being fully God, as the Creeds state, it is God's Son, who is, quite literally, God. So that's why my title. And if this has always been doctrine, why on earth are we Mormons taking it in the teeth for saying God has a body of flesh and bones?

I don't recall anyone taking it to Mormons for believing Christ had a body, or that the resurrection was literal and physical. The major difference that I can see is that for mainstream Christianity, the incarnation was truly miraculous, unprecedented and unique. God, by nature, is not embodied, but chose to take on flesh in Christ. God the Son took on something that he didn't have before, in order to bridge the gap between God and man. The Son does indeed have a body, but it's not because God by nature is embodied. This was something completely unique and incredible. Indeed, the early church fathers were all amazed by the thought of God becoming man, since it went against everything they would have thought possible. LDS tend to think that God is embodied by nature, which would diminish the wonder of the incarnation, in my opinion.

I think a better focus for your study/podcast would be the differing views on the incarnation, not the resurrection. You're not going to get much argument in the latter area from most mainstream Christians (except from the Spong and Borg variety). Perhaps cksalmon will have some more thoughts in that area.

Take care, everyone :P

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Jesus being fully God, as the Creeds state, it is God's Son, who is, quite literally, God. So that's why my title. And if this has always been doctrine, why on earth are we Mormons taking it in the teeth for saying God has a body of flesh and bones? Jesus Christ is the exact replica of the Father. The Greek word Charakter means this.

Hi Kerry--

Some comments and questions for clarifiation:

(1) You obviously don't take Gr. charakter in its most literal, originary sense: either as tool of engraving or the mark made by such a tool. (Neither do I, of course.)

(2) Your understanding is thus inherently metaphorical--as mine is as well.

With regard to physicality:

(3) You write: "Jesus Christ is the exact replica of the Father." You further suggest that this meaning is bound up in Gr. charakter.

(3.1) Do you mean that Jesus Christ is a clone of the Father (i.e., that they share identical DNA)? I don't think that's what you mean.

(3.2) Do you mean that they are identical twins?

(3.3) Do you mean that they are biologically isomorphic?

(3.4) Do you mean that one would not be able to tell one from the other?

(3.5) Again, with regard to the physical aspect, do you mean nothing more than that they both have bodies? Non-identical, non-isomorphic, genetically-distinguishable bodies?

(4) It seems as if you're arguing that your metaphorical understanding of Gr. charakter entails that the Father has a physical body.

(5) But how is this so entailed by the Greek in Hebrews?

I think one could argue that the traditional view is a more literal rendering of the Greek insofar as traditional Christians affirm that, with respect to the attributes and characteristics constitutive of divinity, the Son and the Father are exactly isomorphic--identical, Christ being an express image of the Father.

Both interpretations are metaphorical vis-a-vis a woodenly literal understanding of charakter.

A follow-up question: Do you believe that Jesus and Elohim are exactly isomorphic in their divine qualities and attributes, or does the Father surpass the Son in any way (e.g., in knowledge, in dominion, in power, in greatness, etc.) Are they identical with regard to all aspects of their respective divinity?

Best.

CKS

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Let me get this right.

Am I to understand that Rhino and cksalmon telling us that Jesus was physically resurrected? (If so, that is not news...I believe that is standard traditional theology.) What the podcast implies is that the nature of God (in the person of Jesus Christ) is that he has now has physical form for the rest of eternity. Do Rhino and cksalmon agree with that?

I just want to boil down the essence and make sure I'm understanding it correctly. (Because if that is the case...that IS a radical departure from what I was taught in Bible Sunday School, the creeds as I understand them, and what countless traditional Christians have told me.)

Regards,

Six

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Am I to understand that Rhino and cksalmon telling us that Jesus was physically resurrected and that he, as God, has a resurrected physical body? (If so, that is not news...I believe that is standard traditional theology.)

Sounds good to me.

What the podcast implies is that the nature of God (in the person of Jesus Christ) is that he has now has physical form for the rest of eternity?

I am unable to listen to the podcast at work, but I wouldn't say that the nature of God is that He has a physical form for eternity as a result of the incarnation. The person of the Son (as distinct from the nature of God as a whole) has a human nature as well as the divine nature. "Nature" would apply to the Trinity as a whole, while "person" applies to the Son individually. To say that because the Son has a body, therefore the Father does also, strays rather closely to modalism, on its face.

Take care, everyone :P

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Rhino:

Would it be fair to say that ou believe that Jesus has been resurrected and now has a physical body for eternity? It is now his nature to be physical? (And, is that standard traditional Christian doctrine?)

If Jesus has a body, is it fair to say that you believe that 'God' is now a physical being by virtue of the fact that a person in the triune has a body for eternity? (And, is that standard traditional Christian doctrine?)

Regards,

Six

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Would it be fair to say that ou believe that Jesus has been resurrected and now has a physical body for eternity? It is now his nature to be physical? (And, is that standard traditional Christian doctrine?)

Yes to the first, no to the second. Christ, as both God and man, actually has two natures combined in one person. The Son has two natures, divine and human, so it is not his nature to be embodied, per se. Embodiment is part of the human nature assumed by the Son, but it is not a part of the divine nature. The Definition of Chalcedon was composed to express this part of the faith as specifically as possible. On this, I believe I am solidly in line with traditional Christian doctrine.

If Jesus has a body, is it fair to say that you believe that 'God' is now a physical being by virtue of the fact that a person in the triune has a body for eternity? (And, is that standard traditional Christian doctrine?)

No, I wouldn't say that, for much the same reasons as the above. It is the human nature that the Son took on that is embodied. It did not change the divine nature shared by the Trinity. (Once you grasp the distinction between the two natures in Christ, it actually clears up a great deal and makes thinking about all this much easier, believe it or not <_< )

Take care, everyone :P

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Rhino:

Would it be fair to say that ou believe that Jesus has been resurrected and now has a physical body for eternity? It is now his nature to be physical? (And, is that standard traditional Christian doctrine?)

If Jesus has a body, is it fair to say that you believe that 'God' is now a physical being by virtue of the fact that a person in the triune has a body for eternity? (And, is that standard traditional Christian doctrine?)

Regards,

Six

Hi bsix--

I'm quite comfortable with rhino's summary, so I won't repeat it.

With regard to Christology, I've noticed that EV's, despite numerous differences (some of them significant), tend to speak in unison. (And, with regard to Christology, they echo, for the most part, their RCC forebearers--naturally enough, I suppose.)

Best.

CKS

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PODCAST COMMENT #1:

I haven't read the article yet. I'd welcome information (cited from the article) supportive of the claims below:

You cite page 149 in the article and then state categorically:

(1) Flesh and blood cannot enter in the heavenly realm.

(2) Flesh and bone can enter in the heavenly realm.

I would suggest that Geisler neither states nor implies this distinction. It is foreign to the original article you cite. If Geisler makes this distinction, I'd like to see the actual text quoted.

You have equated imperishability (at some level), apparently, with a lack of blood in the veins of Jesus's resurrected body.

I'd wager that this is an unjustified interpolation on your part--Ι would guess that this is not presented in Geisler's article at all. Is there a citation in the actual text of the article to support your statement here?

Shortly later, you quote Geisler about the spirit body and state that Geisler is saying precisely what Joseph Smith taught: namely, "[JS:] that the reason we will be imperishable is because we will not be filled with blood."

Does Geisler state this? I'd, again, wager that he does not. Feel free to cite his words to this effect if he has written them. If he does not make any mention of this blood/bone distinction, how can you state that Geisler is saying "precisely" what Joseph Smith taught?

Best.

CKS

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Hi Kerry--

It seems that one of your purposes is to argue that God the Father has a body.

Of course, Geisler denies this very belief in several places. Here's one:

WS: I hate to keep picking on groups that have made visits to Charlotte, but let me at least mention a couple more. The Brownsville Blessing movement, and the Toronto Blessing movement. Believers in those movements claim there were manifestations of gold dust. Even a lot of charismatics started distancing themselves from those movements when the gold dust claims started being thrown around. Yet many people are very ready to embrace that sort of thing.

Norman Geisler: Because, as P.T. Byrum said, a sucker is born every minute. And in America, you can change that to a sucker is born every second. You can change that to every second in America. Yes, there are cultic tendencies in the evangelical churches. The â??Jesus-onlyâ? movement denies Father and Son, and that is a cult by definition because it denies a major doctrine. And you have the radicals in the Word of Faith Movement who are saying that God the Father has a body. The Bible says God is spirit. That's denying a major truth about God. You even had Benny Hinn saying there are 9 persons in the trinity -- 3 in the father, 3 in the son, and 3 in the holy spirit. He later he backed off that. He said this was a revelation from God. Well, if it was a revelation, either God was wrong or Benny Hinn was wrong. Then he said Jesus didn't atone for our sins on the cross. He had to go to hell to finish the job. Incredible things infiltrating the evangelical church, to say nothing of the real notable cults outside of us. And the reason gets back to our failure to emphasize doctrine, our failure to teach the word of God to people and to instead emphasize experience.

It appears obvious that Geisler would not affirm your analysis of this article if you're using it to support your assumption that Geisler equates a "spirit body" with a material body devoid of blood. Geisler heartily affirms the materiality of Christ's physical resurrection. That's traditional Christian doctrine. Your attempt to use his writing as an arrow in the quiver of the argument for God the Father's corporeal nature is inherently misguided.

Geisler doesn't argue such. His words about Christ's physical body are not transferable to a discussion of God the Father's nature.

Best.

CKS

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This concept gets quite convoluted...

Jesus is both man and God. Not half and half...but both. Right?

Jesus is also God, one of three persons in the single God. Right?

God is also also physical because Jesus (God) is physically resurrected. Right?.

It seems to me then that by extention, it is fair and logical to say that God is an eternal man with an immortal body.

That my friends, is starting to sound an awful lot like Mormon theology.

Regards,

Six

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CKSalman:

Geisler doesn't argue such. His words about Christ's physical body are not transferable to a discussion of God the Father's nature.

From Geisler's viewpoint, this is correct. From what Jesus taught in the New Testament however, Geisler is wrong. Jesus taught clearly and plainly that all that He is, His own Father is also. That is why Geisler proclaiming in stentorian voice that Jesus is FULLY embodied AS GOD reflects the Father's nature as well. After all, aren't they ONE KIND of BEING? Is it Creedal to say that Christ's nature is different than the Father's, as well now as his very substance?

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Jesus being fully God, as the Creeds state, it is God's Son, who is, quite literally, God. So that's why my title. And if this has always been doctrine, why on earth are we Mormons taking it in the teeth for saying God has a body of flesh and bones? Jesus Christ is the exact replica of the Father. The Greek word Charakter means this.

Should I? Nah...

Sorry about the trite reply, Kerry. I meant you no disrespect and have returned to comment. When you say that the Greek word "charakter" means exact replica, why do you take that to mean an exact physical replica? Couldn't it mean an exact spiritual replica? That is to say, a shared nature?

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If Jesus still has his physical resurrected body, where is he and what is he doing right now?

God being a spirit and God (Father) having a body is not contradictory. I think most of us humans have both also. In the set of the universe, such a condition is possible.

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Is it Creedal to say that Christ's nature is different than the Father's, as well now as his very substance?

Hi Kerry--

Of course it's creedal to affirm that Christ's human nature is different than the Father's divine nature (which Christ also shares) and that his human nature (not shared by the Father) entails human flesh.

Definition of Chalcedon

Following, then, the holy fathers, we unite in teaching all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This selfsame one is perfect both in deity and in humanness; this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul and a body. He is of the same reality as God as far as his deity is concerned and of the same reality as we ourselves as far as his humanness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted. Before time began he was begotten of the Father, in respect of his deity, and now in these "last days," for us and behalf of our salvation, this selfsame one was born of Mary the virgin, who is God-bearer in respect of his humanness.

We also teach that we apprehend this one and only Christ-Son, Lord, only-begotten - in two natures; and we do this without confusing the two natures, without transmuting one nature into the other, without dividing them into two separate categories, without contrasting them according to area or function. The distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the "properties" of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one "person" and in one reality. They are not divided or cut into two persons, but are together the one and only and only-begotten Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus have the prophets of old testified; thus the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us; thus the Creed of the Fathers* has handed down to us.

Best.

CKS

PS. I'm not denying it, but I'm wondering what verse(s) you are thinking of when you write: "Jesus taught clearly and plainly that all that He is, His own Father is also." References?

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If Jesus still has his physical resurrected body, where is he and what is he doing right now?

God being a spirit and God (Father) having a body is not contradictory. I think most of us humans have both also. In the set of the universe, such a condition is possible.

According to scripture, Jesus is with the Father. What is he doing? He provides intercession for us and:

John 14: 2

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

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PODCAST COMMENT #2

Geisler quotes the Second Creed of Epiphanius (AD 374), St. Augustine, and the Westminster Confession of 1647 to the effect that Christ's resurrection and ascension involved a physical body.

You state: "This is pure Mormon doctrine." I would suggest that this is pure Christian doctrine. You further suggest that it is fascinating that when Geisler is doing “pure exegesis he comes extremely close to LDS doctrine.” You concede that Geisler has contributed to anti-Mormon publications, but claim to find it fascinating that Geisler is, per your view, echoing Mormon doctrine when engaged in pure exegesis.

You go so far as to state that “the vast majority of his very fine analysis and exegesis here in this article is pure Mormon doctrine.” Frankly, I don’t find this particularly fascinating at all. Geisler is simply expounding traditional Christian doctrine. I would conversely suggest that, at some points, LDS doctrine mirrors traditional Christian doctrine. This is one of those places. But, Geisler is certainly not going against the grain of traditional Christianity in his synopsis here; he is merely affirming it.

As he states in the next paragraph, “Evangelicals have always stressed the physical nature of Christ’s resurrection body.” As, I would add, have Catholics and Greek Orthodox, etc.

You also imply that Geisler is placing “flesh and blood” (from Paul) in some sort of tension with “flesh and bone” (from Luke). I don’t see that Geisler is making any sort of theological pronouncement re: this distinction. You state that Joseph Smith scooped Geisler by 200 years on this “doctrine,” but Geisler manifestly does not present this distinction as “doctrine.” To my reading, he doesn’t even recognize it in the way that you imply that he does. You’ve taken two isolated scriptural citations in his article, collapsed them into a purported doctrinal conviction/statement by Geisler (that I don’t see), and then proclaimed that Joseph Smith got there first.

You state that “flesh and blood” cannot enter heaven but “flesh and bones” can. Geisler never comments upon whether or not “flesh and bones” can enter heaven. He merely cites a statement of Jesus recorded by Luke that Jesus argued to his doubtful disciples that he was not a spirit [read: ghost] because, obviously, ghosts don’t have “flesh and bones” as Jesus did. That is as far as Geisler goes. He does not make the definitive pronouncement you appear to be reading into his article.

You state that Paul taught that our bodies will have “spirit in them.” I’m particularly interested in that preposition “in” in the phrase “spirit in them.” What does this mean precisely? And where does Paul state that blood, running in the veins and arteries, will be replaced with “spirit?” I’m just trying to follow your argument here. I think this is a category mistake, frankly.

Geisler criticizes Pannenberg’s non-material view of resurrection. You state that it is “very interesting that Norman Geisler is taking exception to this idea.” But, no, it’s not all that interesting at all, Kerry. Pannenberg’s view is simply not the view of traditional Christianity, which universally affirms the physicality of the resurrection. Why wouldn’t Geisler take exception to the non-traditional view espoused by Pannenberg. Conversely, it would be very interesting, indeed, if Geisler agreed with Pannenberg’s view.

I'll post more later, though I do wonder if you'll choose to respond.

Best.

CKS

PS. I also wonder whether or not you've looked into your apparent misrepresentation of Geisler's take on Grant Osborne, as you stated that you would, and have decided to clarify that misreading in some future podcast.

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Jesus being fully God, as the Creeds state, it is God's Son, who is, quite literally, God. So that's why my title. And if this has always been doctrine, why on earth are we Mormons taking it in the teeth for saying God has a body of flesh and bones? Jesus Christ is the exact replica of the Father. The Greek word Charakter means this.

Still waiting on my carving of the Trinity. :P

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Yes to the first, no to the second. Christ, as both God and man, actually has two natures combined in one person. The Son has two natures, divine and human, so it is not his nature to be embodied, per se. Embodiment is part of the human nature assumed by the Son, but it is not a part of the divine nature. The Definition of Chalcedon was composed to express this part of the faith as specifically as possible. On this, I believe I am solidly in line with traditional Christian doctrine.

No, I wouldn't say that, for much the same reasons as the above. It is the human nature that the Son took on that is embodied. It did not change the divine nature shared by the Trinity. (Once you grasp the distinction between the two natures in Christ, it actually clears up a great deal and makes thinking about all this much easier, believe it or not <_< )

Take care, everyone :P

Sorry, but sirens are going off in my little mormon brain. I will quote you:

The Son has two natures, divine and human, so it is not his nature to be embodied, per se. Embodiment is part of the human nature assumed by the Son, but it is not a part of the divine nature.

This is what I understand you to say: Christ has two natures.

1. Divine- Non-corporeal spirit by nature

2. Human- corporeal flesh by nature, not divine

What this suggests is that Christ, as God, possesses a nature which is non-divine, as well as one which is divine. He possesses two natures that would be completely conflicting in anyone else, including the Father and the H.S., not to mention a normal human being. While you claim that God is fully divine, you must also include that he is fully not-divine, since your creed teaches that Christ is fully man, and fully God. Perhaps you are gleefully are shouting, yes that is exactly it!! What I am particularly concerned about is the phrase "so it is not his nature to be embodied, per se", and the reason I am concerned is that it obviously is in his nature to be embodied, otherwise he would not be. Your nature is what you are, and Christ embodied.

According to my understanding of your doctrine, Christ did not have a human nature prior to incarnation, but "assumed" it at that time, and he will forever retain that human nature. Was Christ then only one nature at first, and then became two simultaneously? Or was Christ always a dual natured kind of guy? If he always has had a human nature along with his divine nature, was he male or female prior to coming to earth?

So what we have are three different people,

1 Who has only the divine nature, all spirit, no body

1 Who has both the divine nature, and the corporeal non-divine nature

1 Who apparently is of the same variety as the Father, all divine, no body.

These three people form an eternal union that is not three individual gods, but one Super God, with multiple contradictory natures.

How does this sound when we consider the words of the Savior?

20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

How do we fit the mighty Trinity doctrine into these passages of scripture, which clearly describes the unity of the Godhead by analogy to the unity of individual, separate, men who are composed of different substances, and are not homoousious ?

Furthermore, if Christ has the ability to go from having 1 nature to having 2 natures, why can't man? Does God not have the ability to endow man with an inheritance of two "natures"?

Sargon

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