In this special Easter episode, Kyle and Randy discuss all their questions about resurrection. They cover its significance to them, its coherence, whether it makes any sense to hope for it, apologetic approaches to it, how much it matters, and why Randy finds conversations about it kind of frustrating. Happy Easter!
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NOTE: This transcript was auto-generated by an artificial intelligence and has not been reviewed by a human. Please forgive and disregard any inaccuracies, misattributions, or misspellings.
I'm Randy, the pastor half of the podcast, and my friend Kyle is a philosopher. This podcast hosts conversations at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and spirituality.
We also invite experts to join us, making public space that we've often enjoyed off-air around the proverbial table with a good drink in the back corner of a dark pub.
Thanks for joining us, and welcome to A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar. today, we're gonna be talking about Easter, we're coming to you on Easter weekend. We actually are releasing this episode on Good Friday. Which you can't say Happy Good Friday. That's not a thing. So a good summer. Good Friday to
you too, man. Thanks. I'm okay with saying Happy Easter. Some of those people out there think you're not supposed to experience Easter until like 5am. Sunday morning. I'm not that person. No. Happy Easter
in screw Holy Saturday? Well, yes. And we know that many of you most of you don't listen to this episode as soon as we dropped them. So it was a good Friday, for those of you who are listening some other time. But it's Easter weekend, and we wanted to talk about the resurrection. We've talked about the resurrection in spots here and there. And we've had a consistent theme through the middle of our podcast talking about if the resurrection didn't happen, would you still be a Christian? And we'll get to that in this episode. But we're gonna kind of take a shotgun approach to this episode, we have a number of thoughts about the resurrection. Some of them are fun. Some of them annoy me. And they're all fun and good. And we're just going to just literally bounce around and talk about whether the resurrection really happened. What if the resurrection didn't happen? We're going to talk about what the resurrection means to us. And what this conversation does to us, in many ways. Yeah, I'm excited about it. I mean, the resurrection if, if it's real, if it happened, it's the biggest deal of all time in the history of the universe.
Yeah. Yeah, most of our episodes have a clear theme and a through line, and then we try to, you know, stick to that and break bring everything back. This doesn't really other than it's about resurrection. So we're not even going to pretend otherwise. This is very much a, all the questions we have about resurrection shoved into one conversation with him, we're not gonna get to the bottom of any of them. But that's, that's fine. And hopefully, we get to some of the exact synergy questions. Most likely, these are things you know, a thoughtful Christian is going to wonder about some of these things. And so we're going to wander along with you for 45 minutes to an hour.
Yeah. And what we do around here, we say this every episode, but we always know that we have new listeners. And if you're new, welcome to the community. We're excited to have you excited, you're listening. Hope you go back and listen to old episodes and either get really excited or hate our guts, whatever it is, we love you and
write reviews either way, because we need
Amen. But what we do around here we are pastor philosopher walk into a bar. And we'd like to have conversations around alcoholic beverage of choice because it's delicious. And we'd like to foster conversations that happen in bars, not churches, or classrooms, or fill in the blank. So what are we drinking here today,
we're drinking a beer. So some of our listeners are going to be excited about that others are going to be disappointed. It's not whiskey, but we drink lots of whiskey around here. So it's nice to return to beer. If you recall that there are oldest listeners. The first stuff we drink was beer we we started with that. So I like to bring it back out every now and then. And this is from my favorite brewery. This is from side project brewing in St. Louis, Missouri. And this is a saison which is a Bear Lake Saison, which is my favorite kind of beer. I've not had this blend specifically this is called kurta. QBE, which is French for something like some fancy heart of the blend or heart of the batch or something like that. And it is a blend. So what side projects their master brewer is known for mostly is one his palate, but to his blending skills, he came from wine where he developed a really, really good palate, but he's just excellent best in the game at blending. And so this is a blend of lots of different barrel aged recipes. Some of them were aged for 18 or 19 months in French oak. Some of them were arrested for nine months in different oak some of them are aged for 33 months and neutral oak and they were all done blended and dry hot. That's insanity. Yeah. So so some of this is pretty old, especially for beer, and I expect good things we'll see.
I project always brings good things. Cheers. Cheers. That's a pineapple on the nose nine anvil and see this got that sour? Yes.
And look, you know, it's gonna be Pellegrini. Smith. Oh, yes. Like a Granny Smith.
Yep. Oh, yes.
Wow. This is so good.
That's good. That's really good.
This is better than I expect.
It's really good, man. Yeah, it's hard to narrow down one flavor profile but you still get the pineapple and the flavor profile. You still get the tart fruit. I don't get as much barn as I usually get in saisons
this is sort of like a good barely Susan to me has. I'm going to just Grab it as a gym sock but it is the best possible version of that kind of flavor. Like gin sock Jim sock like a raucous sour kind of I don't know almost thing, but but somehow it blends well with everything.
You just about ruin this for me. I get a little strawberry in the nose. Okay. Yeah, yeah for sure. Yep. Yeah,
let's do draping. So he's just, he's literally smelling the bullet is
whole 30 tasting, which means he's gonna stick my stick snorting Saison it could become a thing.
Yeah, one of my favorite things about breweries like side projects that do regular releases of blends is that each instance is dramatically different from the previous ones. So good. This is blend 11 I've had several of the previous ones. None of them have been this good of this line. And in my opinion,
in the last two tastings, Elliott has been a whole 13 is abstaining. Which props. But um, it just so happens that they've been to delicious tastings. Almost like we're putting it on for him. But on my bed, this is the best season.
I do have. I do have another bottle of this. And now that I know how good it is gonna sit on that I
think this is the best season I've ever had. It's damn good.
I think he said that about the last side project.
I haven't had many seasons. This one is better than that. For sure.
So Corey said project cheers. This is phenomenal. Cheers decide. He's never going to hear this. But you did good buddy.
Around here, we'd like to read reviews, particularly awesome reviews. And this is a review from jag 4444. In the review is titled well I just binge listened to every single one of these. Told me a couple this. Yeah. Quadruple force as a spiritual director, friend of mine recommended this podcast and 60 days ago, and I just finished binge listening to every single one. My brain hurts a little but my epistemic humility has never been higher. Actually was, I now know that I really don't know that much. But my faith has never been stronger. Currently, my wife and I are in the midst of transition between two very different faith communities in this podcast has played a significant role in stabilizing these choppy waters for us. If you're on the fence about trying this podcast out, then I couldn't recommend more that you take a deep breath. Allow yourself to be challenged and dive in with a willingness to learn. Just maybe don't do it all in 60 days, or else you might need a stiff drink. Actually, if you are listening to this podcast, you are probably already doing that. Yes. Also, if you're not a drinker, don't be afraid of this podcast. I've never tasted alcohol in my life for quite a few reasons and thoroughly enjoyed all of this dude,
that's so cool. How about that? Can I like use that for something?
I think we should somehow. Yeah,
I don't know. That I put on a t shirt. That's fantastic. Jack
4444. Cheers to you. Cheers.
So Randy, this is one of those Christianae questions, but I mean it sincerely What does Easter mean to you? out so you know, several ways you could take that? How's your experience of Easter changed at all, as you've deconstructed over the past few years? If it has, how do you celebrate Easter? What, you know, forms of liturgy? Or do you find meaningful, that sort of thing?
Easter is very, very meaningful to me. I love resurrection is the theme, right? I mean, resurrection is one of the main reasons why I'm in this thing called Christianity and still, like super excited about it. Because of the possibility of resurrection after we die because of the idea of resurrection as a metaphor that works for like, living a hopeful life and having hope. So yeah, I love it. I love the scriptures. I love the resurrection stories. They're compelling. They're beautiful. They're radical, the revolutionary the tidbits of them, of the significance of the woman in the story coming through right in the forefront, I think says so much that you have to pay attention to it every single time you go into the resurrection stories. And then Paul's take on the resurrection floored me. And then you add all that to it. I just love Easter services. I love the Easter hymns. I love the life triumphing over death themes. Like I can't sing an Easter song or hymn without welling up with tears in the best way possible. And then it's just yeah, I think resurrection is just a beautiful, beautiful theme that's worth spending time on. Yeah. How about you?
It's really meaningful to me too. I don't know it's, I love Christmas, but mostly because of the trappings and like the social aspect of it and hanging around the Christmas tree and whatever and you know, incarnations significant. But resurrection has always been the thing that gripped me most about Christianity, both personally and theologically. And I take lent very seriously, was that for most of my life I have any way. I approach it very contemplatively. I try. This has not been true in the last couple of years if I'm honest, because I've been very busy. But for most of my life, I've tried hard to approach it in the mode of contemplating death, Memento Mori, as it's supposed to be Ash Wednesday themes, yes, like, so I would, you know, I would go and get the ash smeared on my forehead and teach that way, you know, and be very open about that, and try to try to keep death on my mind for those 40 days. And that's pretty listen to things and read things that would remind me of it. And I'm gonna ask you later, what sorts of you know, art speaks to you about resurrection, and that sort of thing? And so, you know, I try to read stuff and contemplate stuff that does that. and various other, you know, disciplines that Christians take up, I've always taken it very seriously, even when I believed hardly anything, even even when I've had years where it all seems false. I still try to do that. And I think it's, yeah, it's definitely the most significant part of the Christian calendar to me. It's also the part that I have the hardest time reconciling with some, some things that I wonder about, about God, some of them philosophical, some of them personal, and we can get into some of those. I can't say, though, that my experience of it has changed much interestingly, the more skeptical I've become, the more tightly I've clung to Easter. What do you think that is? I'm not sure it may be because it's like the, the core of it to me, you know, so we've talked a bit before about Christianity still existing without it. Without resurrection, we can come back to that later, but I don't think it can. And it is the core of the thing to me. And it's the thing that if it isn't so then all the things I take seriously and put value on are meaningless in some sense. And so the easier it becomes to question all the other stuff, the the smaller, my center circle becomes, yeah, and it tightens around this thing. You kind of need resurrection, I need it. Yes. And that's a weird thing to say, for a philosopher to need to think to be true, because that's dogmatism. That's the thing we warn people about, right. But I don't mean that epistemic ly. Although belief is part of it. I mean, it viscerally. I mean, I mean it spiritually, like in my gut, and I need for my mother's polio to not have been meaningless, for example. Right. So stuff like that I need for my friend who's currently being treated for cancer to I need for that to mean something and to be going somewhere. And so yeah, it, the more deconstructed I get, the more significant that becomes,
yep. Yeah, no, I would say as well that I've gone through. Again, I'm not going to say deconstruction, even though probably I could put myself in that camp. But I've gone through spiritual evolution. And I plan on continuing going through spiritual evolution to lesser or greater degrees throughout my life. But the resurrection has mostly stayed intact for me. And I say mostly it we'll get to it at the end of the episode. Why conversations like this kind of kind of pissed me off. Okay. All right. But let's let's just head into what is the resurrection? Yeah. Does it make sense? Let's ask the questions.
Yeah, yeah. So what do Christians mean by resurrection, because lots of very serious theologians and biblical scholars have spilled a lot of ink on distinguishing resurrection from other kinds of afterlife views and other religions or even in like, early Christian sects, and you know, Gnostics, and all the other stuff that people that interpreted what Jesus was differently, they all had different views. And then this sort of orthodox view of resurrection formed, just like it did for all the other big, you know, core theological doctrines like the Trinity and whatever, over the first few 100 years of the church. I'm not a church historian, but like they solidified their views about this stuff. So when Christians talk about the resurrection of Jesus and the future resurrection of, you know, the world, what do they mean?
Well, I was just gonna ask you this.
But I asked first, so now you have to answer.
I mean, it's like the most kindergarten question. I feel like in some ways, in many ways that you know, Jesus, I don't think you can divorce the resurrection from Jesus life and death, obviously, right. So Jesus, I would say in his life, death and resurrection, in my current theological framework, conquered all that held humanity back and set itself against God's beloved which is all all human beings, which is biblically sin death and the power of the devil. Whether or not you think the devil is real or not. We're going to have an episode about that coming up, I think sometime soon. But I think biblically, it's pretty obvious that there's something holding humanity back from you unity with God. I think that's the main thing and from from having life, in Jesus in His life, death and resurrection, conquered all those things in the resurrection just means, I think, theologically, that Jesus is the ultimate Victor over all things. You know, Paul says that God is going to be all in all, like Jesus is going to hand over the keys to the kingdom to to the father, because he has supremacy over all things. This is First Corinthians 15. And so I think the reason that a person like Paul, an ancient person like Paul or, or myself could say, This is why the resurrection is the most important thing in the universe's history is that, if it's true, it means that Jesus is supreme over cancer, and polio, and injustice and oppression, and will have the final say like, good, and beauty and life when in the end. That's, I think, the theme of resurrection and why it matters so much. Yeah, good.
So it's automatically theologically Earth suffused with theological significance, right? It's not divorced from Jesus's teaching. It's not divorced from the Jewish context of Jesus's teaching. It's all one thing. NT right is excellent on this. I'm sure we're gonna get him more because he's had a lot to say about this. Yeah. And so I love that, thank you for immediately pointing that out. But it's also concrete. Right? Like uncomfortably So from the perspective of liberal religious people? Sure. And from the perspective of other kinds of faith traditions who approach the afterlife differently. It is specific and historic. It is, yeah, it's grounded in a moment, like in history, a person who lived and who made some claims and then who died and then there were witnesses to that person's life who wrote about it, who claimed that they saw him again, like these things are starting to sound like my old apologist self, but like this is core to the Christian story. It's not a metaphor. It's not presented as a metaphor.
Yeah. One of my favorites. Just in as an aside, one of my favorite verses in the resurrection narrative is the you know, Matthew, I think 2528 Chris, great commission is just about to happen. Jesus just about to ascend and it said Jesus followers gathered up on this hill. He was about to send in a said, most of his followers saw him and believed, though some still doubt it. Yeah. Which is Yeah, so fun to me. Like you're standing there looking at the resurrected Jesus. And they're like, I don't buy it. Yeah,
it's an actor. Yeah. That's amazing. It is and it's amazing. It's in the text. It's amazing. The use of Thomas is in the text, you know that. That great old Caravaggio painting with Thomas sticking his finger in Jesus's side, like that's the thing they decided to put in
the end. That's one of the reasons why I love the Scripture so much. And it makes it helps me believe it actually. Yeah, that it actually says, hey, just so you know, something. Some doubted some. Yeah, believe it. Yes.
So I think it's important to be clear on the radicalness of the thing we're celebrating at Easter, and how not counterintuitive counterintuitive is far too weak a word? How fantastical? Yeah, fantastic. Magical. Almost Kierkegaard would call it offensive. It offends reason. And it's almost incoherent. We can talk about that. Yeah, there's your kick, I think about the resurrection. It's the it's the focal point. Well, okay, so incarnation itself is the focal point. But you can't really separate them, right. Because the incarnation had to Terminus, if you will, or like a crux wouldn't be very, you know, literal about it, Lutheran about it, and that that was the cross. And then of course, you can't have the cross without what happened next. So it's all kind of one thing, and it's the, it's the thing that your reason runs up against and fails, and then you have a choice for Kierkegaard. Am I going to accept this and hope and live accordingly? Or am I going to reject it in despair? Then he accepted it and hope he did? Or at least he encouraged us to? Yeah. So it's not resuscitation, right? We're not talking about somebody who wasn't
actually dead? Or they were dead for 15 minutes? Exactly. Five minutes, yeah.
Or even hours, right? It's this very concrete, very falsifiable, at least for the people there, kind of claim, and the whole thing is hung on it. And when you talk, I'm gonna get you to say a little bit more about Paul's view of resurrection and what what you like about it, but he minces no words, man, he hangs the whole thing on it and talks about how it is offensive to reason he is his own phrase for that. But it's like, it's the sort of thing God would do to create a stumbling block for those who are confident in their own ability to get to the truth. And I think that's part of what he had in mind there. So going into this, because I'm going to air my skepticism here in a few minutes. And I've said simultaneously, that this is the most important aspect of this whole thing to me, and that my life would in many ways, be meaningless without it. And also, I find it extraordinarily difficult to believe, and sometimes straightforwardly, don't believe it. And I think you have have to hold those intention because it is a tough thing to believe. And if you think it's not you just haven't thought hard enough about. I'm going to try to convince you of that I'm going to raise some objections that maybe will help. But
yeah, no. And I mean, I don't think you'll have to convince me that it's, well, a tough thing to believe is is a loaded gun. Because when you grew up in a faith, oh, yeah, you take something for granted. Yes, it becomes very ironclad and certainty is wrapped all around that thing. Yeah. When you disassemble and deconstruct that certainty, then all of a sudden, it becomes vulnerable. Yeah. However, after you go, Okay. I'm going to tell everyone why I'm frustrated with conversations like this.
Okay. But it does good. Before I do that, though. You want to say anything about Paul, and what, what Jazz's you about and his his view of resurrection?
No, I just like Paul's a really smart guy. And he makes really, really brilliant arguments a lot of times, and I think some of like, I think he really caught on to the scandal of Christ in ways that most human beings don't. And that is that he realizes the silliness of like, an itinerary, an itinerant preacher walking through Galilee, being from an unimportant place, having no like social standing, having no educate, formal education that we know of all this stuff. And yet, this is the person that is the image of the invisible God. And in all of the fullness of the Deity dwelling, and Jesus, I'm just quoting from Paul here. And then that the way that God accomplishes a victory is through a humiliating execution, literally, like dying like a criminal, forgotten and scorned and mocked, and all the things and then coming back to life, like the whole story is ridiculous, in many ways. Yeah. And Paul gets that. And that's the he sees the beauty of that scandal. He sees the revolting nature of it. And he's enthralled by it and says, Well, yeah, this is the way that God like, what more beautiful way would God rescue humanity than by the Scandalous, revolting, revolutionary story of this common person? Who we didn't take seriously, but God saw fit to save all things through him.
Yeah, that's good man. You could preach on. I bet you have. So I want to ask a couple questions. Does the resurrection make sense? So like, when you think carefully about it? Is it the sort of thing that you could intelligibly hope for, is what I'm really asking, Can you legitimately, rationally hoped for? And so I've just spoken about we've spoken about at length before the the end of reason, and the failure of reason. And you know, every time we bring up Kierkegaard that comes up, but I still have a very high regard for reason. And it is part of human nature. Right. And I, I suspect, I think CS Lewis said something like this, but I'm not gonna remember the quote, it's hard for me personally. And I suspect it's hard for others, to hope for something that I can't understand. Now, let me rephrase that a little bit. It's hard for me to hope for things that seem incoherent. Sure, if I just can't see one way or the other than there's room for hope. I think there's room for faith in that. And I'm okay with that. And a lot of Christian doctrines are like that. I don't know what the hell the Trinity means. I've read arguments on all sides of it. And none of them seem convincing. And it seems utterly mysterious at the end of the day, but I don't see that it's not meaningful, right. I don't see any, like, obvious contradictions. Some people would disagree with me there. But you know, I could have faith in something like that, I could hope for something like that, because it doesn't present itself to me as incoherent. But in some ways, resurrection does. So one of the things Hume David Hume, the Scottish philosopher, kind of known for his sketches and political bent. Yeah, I'm big fan, kind of the, you know, one of the main proponents progenitors of empiricism which kind of won the day in Western philosophy, at least continuing into the present. He even I mean, his influence lasted even after Kant's, like, immense influence in response to him. So his critique of miracles and resurrection in particular was enormously influential. It's been influential in my own life. So Hume had part of his argument, his argument against miracles is complex, and we're not going to go into it. But part of it is that there's a kind of weight of evidence built up over time, from your observations of the world. There's just kind of a way the world proceeds that we've become accustomed to so much so that we don't notice it. And some of the things that you know, one of the great values of philosophy is that it can point out things to you about your experience of the world that are jarring, because you recognize them for the first time and recognize that you've been taking the opposite for granted for so long. You are taking something about them for granted. He thought causality was like that, but we won't get into that. So for, for miracles part of his argument against the reasonability of believing them or believing or courts about them more specifically, is that everything in our experience tells us they can't happen. And this is never more true than for resurrection. Because the death rate, as they say, is 100%. We see decay and death and entropy around us all the time. We're born dying, literally, in some sense. And so the idea that that universal experience could be reversed and overcome forever. Just wars against our, our reason, which is rooted in our experience. That's empiricism. And I think that's right. Yeah. So there is this enormous weight of evidence, just from the get go against the central claim of Christianity, that it needs to overcome, in some sense not to, you know, not in the apologetic way of convincing all the naysayers and silencing the heretics. But just to get it to the place where it seems coherent enough for me to hope for it. And so there are some philosophical issues that I just want to touch on lightly, I won't go too much into any of them. That make resurrection difficult. It's especially difficult if like me, you're a materialist. And this is this means I believe humans are physical, their physical stuff were made of atoms, right? We obey the laws of physics. And that is the overwhelming majority view of all philosophers who work on that subject, and has been for quite some time. Some philosophers or duelists will talk about that in a different episode, it's a little bit easier for them, but still not totally easy. But if you're a materialist like me, then it's true that I am a different physical object than I was 10 years ago,
it's time off for a second, in like 30 Seconds or Less describe what a duelist is.
A duelist is someone who thinks there's both a material and immaterial part of the human being, you could call the immaterial part a mind, or a soul. That's been the most common vernacular, a spirit I suppose, although there's different kinds of dualism, the most prominent kind, historically, in the West has been a kind of substance dualism, which says that there is an immaterial substance and a material substance. And the composite of the two creates the human being. Most Christian duelist have thought that when the body dies, the immaterial part of you continues. And that's the thing God preserves until the resurrection when he read clothes, if you will, with a new body. I don't think that's a very Jewish view. It's a pretty heavily Greek influenced view. Plato was a duelist. So I'm not that there'll be a separate episodes worth of content to explain why I think that we're physical stuff all the way down. And what that means is, whatever I am, it cannot be this. Well, there are puzzles about what it can be because this particular physical configuration of atoms is unique. It will literally be different seconds from now. It was different seconds ago, it was different 10 years ago, and somehow I've stayed the same person through that at least I think I have, maybe I haven't, some people would claim a heaven. So the question this raises for resurrection is if I'm a physical thing, and that physical thing dies into case, and then God, I don't know, makes a new body. How was it me? Even by omnipotence, how was it me?
I mean, it almost can't be if you're a pure materialist.
Yeah. It seems that way, doesn't it? And yet, even the dualists, all the respectable ones anyway, want to say that you're like, intimately connected to a physical body. It's an important part of who you are. This is why Aristotle critiqued Plato's dualism, and had his own kind of version of materialism. That's a controversial claim that it seems more materialist and dualist. And said, you know, what, if you're a composite between the two, then without one, you're not you. You're not a human, right. You're not a person. And I think that's right. And so let me let me read you a quote from a philosopher who is both Catholic and materialist giving an analogy about this, okay? Because, you know, it's very tempting to say that, Well, God can if he created you the first time, he can create you the second time and ensure that it's you. And that's a complicated, that's a hard thing to believe. Let me read you this analogy. So this philosopher, his name's Peter van Inwagen. He says, suppose a certain monastery claims to have in its possession a manuscript written in St. Augustine 's own hand. And suppose the monks of this monastery further claim that this manuscript was burned by the Aryans in the year 457. It would immediately occur to us to ask how this manuscript the one we can touch could be the very manuscript that was burned and 457. Suppose their answer to this question is that God miraculously recreated Agustin 's manuscript in 458. We should respond to this answer as follows. The data described seems quite impossible, even as an accomplishment of omnipotence. God certainly might have created a perfect duplicate of the original manuscript. But it would not be that one. Its earliest moment of existence would have been after Agustin his death, it would never have known the impressive his hand, it would not have been a part of the furniture of the world when he was alive and so on. Now, suppose our monks were to reply, by simply asserting that the manuscript now in their possession did know the impressive Agustin saying that it was a part of the furniture of the world when the saint was alive, that when God recreated or restored it, God as an indispensable component of accomplishing the task saw to it, that the object God produced had all these properties, we confess, we should not know what to make of this, we should have to tell the monks that we do not see what they believe could possibly be true. The same thing is true. Hopefully, it's clear from the analogy of a resurrected body. I simply, I simply am this physical thing. And if God were to make another one, it wouldn't be me. So I might be able to, you know, believe in the, you know, the power of omnipotence to create a new thing that has all my memories, but I can't like reasonably hope for that future.
I mean, I think it's harder to believe for us. Because there's people been dead in the ground for, you know, 1000s of years. But I think it's less hard to believe because of the empty tomb and Jesus, like, right? God reanimating this dead body, overcoming death, bring it back to life. And then, you know, says crazy things like going down to exile, hell, and all this stuff. But the empty tomb speaks something differently than this analogy does, I would say,
I suppose, but there's still a worry about. I mean, you couldn't ask the question was the resurrected Jesus, the same person as the Jesus on the cross? Because I mean, all the fingers in the right, but all the same philosophical words would apply. And even if you think, you know, I don't know, maybe God's inhabiting that body, this would be totally heretical by like, the standards of Athanasius, I think, but like, if God was somehow an exception, and his personal identity was preserved, through that, it doesn't give me any hope that mine will be because I'm not God. Right. I'm not an incarnated being. So. So this is, you know, one of many philosophical worries that questions the coherence of the idea. So it's not just that it is a thing, you have to take on faith, that's granted, it's not just that it's a historical event, we don't have overwhelming evidence for that's also taken for granted. It's that the idea itself almost seems incoherent. And again, the whole thing hangs on this guy called Christian. And this guy, the philosopher that wrote that believes that he's a Catholic. And he's admirably honest about all these things about, you know, saying when something seems mysterious to the point of incoherence, and nonetheless, you got to choose, and sometimes the alternatives are equally mysterious. So I think what this comes down to, for me is, the force of the can, I hope for this question is really whether when I do hope for it, I'm just hoping for something that I know to be impossible. And that thing is that I won't die. Because belief in a resurrection belief in any kind of afterlife really, is a kind of Denial of Death, at least denial of what all the existentialist meant by death, which is the end of my existence, right? Some of them accused religious people, not without merit of just denying death at all. Sure, um, because if I think that I'm either immediately or in some length of time going to be alive and myself again, then did I really die. It was like a long sleep kind of interim thing. Death could be defined as the cessation of my consciousness permanently. And again, Humes point, everything in my experience tells me that's what it is. Except this one thing. Yeah.
Yeah. What's interesting to me as you talk, I'm realizing that I think it's easier for me to believe, put my faith in God in a being that's other or non being the ground of all being, you know, any way you want to cut it. That is creator Sustainer all the Biblical words, that's easier for me to believe actually, then, in the afterlife. It makes more sense to me that there's a God behind all of this and intention behind all of this a thought and a love behind all of this. Then, reanimating dead bodies are, you know, taking on different forms? But that doesn't mean that I don't believe in the afterlife is just one is easier to swallow for me than the other.
Yeah. And I have a real hard time separating them. Sure. Yeah. Even the ethics right, which is I think the thing you would fall back on, if you're a kind of very liberal Christian, for example, or really any kind of religious tradition and you rejected an afterlife, and you did think that death was the end of your existence. And you'd probably find the most of the meaningfulness of your religious practice in a kind of By virtue and ethics, but even the ethics don't make a lot of sense to me without an afterlife. They seem kind of hopeless on one hand, but also like just they don't work out because they're fueled by and based on a view of God that just doesn't seem to hold if there's not another chance. Yeah, that's where I disagree. Okay, well, maybe we should talk more about that sometime. Because, yeah, it seems to me, even Plato said something like this, I don't know if he believed it. But like a lot of lives, and in really just vulgar ways, that don't seem to have any meaningfulness at all. And lots of really bad people have great lives and get away with all of it. And if there's not something to balance the scales, at least somewhat, it's very difficult to believe that any kind of ethic about a good life could be based on the character of God who set things up that way. Yeah, I can see that. Yeah. So there's, they're not separable to me.
Sure. That's fair. Taking that, that, that reading or that exercise that that philosopher presented, why do you come back to the resurrection,
because I have to, there is not a good alternative that is as meaningful to me. I'm sure a lot of it's rooted in my personal history. My Autobiography, the people I've known and loved and context I was formed in, you know, there are versions of Buddhism I could get on board with, some of them seem to make sense. And I think in significant ways are probably at least partially true. But I wasn't raised to Buddhist, I was raised Christian. And I was raised with this image of resurrection in front of me. And I've had deeply meaningful experiences with a person I took to be Jesus. And some of those were, you know, related to contemplating resurrection and new life. And so, yeah, just don't see a good alternative. And this is, for better or worse, my tradition. And I'm going to grapple with it. And I think everybody has to do that. Right? If if someone was raised Buddhist or Hindu or whatever, I'm not going to try to compel them to grapple with my issues, they have plenty of their own. And I'm not saying you are obligated to stay in the tradition that you inherited, but I inherited a rich one. And I, it has as many resources as others. And yeah, I'm compelled to see it through. Yeah,
in for me, I do believe the resurrection happened. I do believe that ultimate, what we're headed for is resurrection and new creation. If it's not true, though, and I as a pastor have spent lots of time thinking, what if I just am spending my whole life on something that isn't true, and trying to convince people of it? It's a crazy thing to think about. But I'm convinced in this in this moment, at least, that a life led that believes in things like resurrection, and hope, and new life and possibility, in that we're headed somewhere good. The world, the universe, all things reality is headed, we're somewhere good, which I believe is resurrection. Even if it's not true. In the end, that would still be a life well lived. Like I become a better person. When I see through the lens of resurrection when I when I interact with the world and human beings through the lens of resurrection. Because there's unending hope and possibility and goodness around the corner for anything in any one. And that's, I'm a better person when I actually fixate on that and focus on that and try to see that around me. Rather than slipping into nihilism slipping into meaninglessness slipping into there is no rhyme or reason you can still be humanist and live a good life. I know there's there's other alternatives. But I, I don't mind, even if I'm fooled. And resurrection isn't a thing. Jesus isn't alive, living towards hoping towards having faith in resurrection. I'm okay with it.
So let me pose this question to you because I know you're gonna run with it. How is resurrection different from the kind of standard, let's say American, I think it's bigger than American. But like the standard Christian view that I grew up with, have we die and our soul, which is the thing we really worry Anyway, go somewhere else. And it's like happy bliss, Joy wherever that is. And then heaven happens somehow we don't really think carefully about but it happens out there. And this world burns, and good returns. And then you know, there's kind of a resurrection. And we don't think too carefully about you know, what that means other than we're gonna be there and the people we hated probably aren't and then they're gonna be justly dealt with. We talked about that in our last episode, if you wanna hear more about that, but this idea primarily that, you know, I'm this non physical thing and when I die, I'm gonna go somewhere else, and God is going to reward me there. And this earth is you know, whatever part of the thing that I'm getting out of,
yeah, I would say that viewpoint is almost completely non biblical. And I say almost because there's some parables, you know, where Jesus gives this picture of the rich man and Lazarus and all that stuff. But it's a parable. Okay, first things first, parables are non literal. They are trying to point to something that's true and real, that uses a picture or a metaphor, or an idea to point us to something that's true and real, right? You take those out of the equation, and it's almost completely non biblical view to think of afterlife as heaven as this place where we all turn into babies in loincloths and float around and, you know, worship endlessly. A more biblical view of afterlife would be resurrection, what an NT Wright has done tons of work on this vision, you should check it out.
What is it surprised, surprised by hope? That's a good one for this topic. Yeah,
for sure. He's completely rooted in the New Testament talking about how Romans eight should be foundational text for us when we talk about resurrection and what the next life will be like in that is, all of creation is longing in groaning as in childbirth for the sons of God to be revealed. That's a text about resurrection, that creation itself has this written into its inner self that would be kind of dualistic, right to think that, that there's a soul or a spirit behind creation, even this is metaphorically in the Psalms, it's all throughout the scriptures that like the rocks will cry out, and that the, you know, you have that. And then you have Paul in Ephesians, one saying that God's purpose put into effect in Christ Jesus, when all the fulfillment of time had happened is to bring unity and all things on heaven and on earth, in Christ Jesus. Now unity, to all things in heaven on earth. First of all, he mentioned Earth there, that means that, like, this world is headed somewhere, and it's not headed for probably the furnace. Now, some people were gonna object and call into question verses from Revelation. Good luck ticking revelations, literally. And you know, concretely, again, that's a book full, completely full of symbolism. We're going to have a episode with Scot McKnight, who wrote a brilliant book about Revelation. Stay tuned for that one, just in a few weeks. But the majority of the New Testament is pointing towards unity, unification of all things, the restoration of all things. And I think that's what resurrection is a little bit more of a fuller picture, biblically and New Testament wise, which is that, like, renewal, redemption, and restoration is coming in, all things are going to be like there's nothing that this this tore into this, this huge raging river of resurrection will not affect from humanity to Earth. It's a new heavens and a new earth, but like not divorced or killed of the old one. It's a it's a renewal of transformation.
Yeah. So and let's be clear into your right is not some crazy liberal. No, no, he's and this isn't just his view. Of course, he's just a good he's theologically conservative as it gets. Exactly. And yeah, and he's no materialist either. But the physicality of the resurrection is, you can't take it out and still have resurrection. Right?
And he does speak we can't mention into your written resurrection without mentioning his work on the the historicity of the resurrection, right, he has done great work on kind of showing if, if the resurrection didn't really happen. This is the early church is an occurrence that we've never seen in humanity's history of the amount of people who are willing to die who were first, you know, the first to see it. And then he goes on from there. And he makes a really good case. But I'm not going to do that for him. He doesn't get
Yeah, so that's a book called The resurrection of the Son of God, which is a giant, like 1000 Page tome, if any of our listeners want to pick that. And it's like part three of a trilogy, the other two parts equally long. Yeah, so that's heavy academic stuff. He probably also has a popular version of that,
I'm not sure. And you can look at for a podcast, I've listened to podcasts. Plenty of those.
And he's really good, particularly on the idea of I think this is the most original part of that take is the DIS continuity of the Jewish view of something you might call resurrection and what developed as the Christian view, how it is kind of an original idea that started with birth Christianity, and then, you know, caught on, there's something unique about it, in other words, and yes, it's, it's here, right? It's not out there. It's this planet. It's physical. And it has started. Like, it's a continuation of something Jesus inaugurated.
Yes. A realized eschatology is what theologians would say.
Exactly. Yeah. So sorry, to those who are excited about leaving the world. Yeah, that's it is not promised that no, praise the Lord to write and do something about climate change. Exactly. So since we mentioned NT, right, I'm not I'm not lumping him in with this group of people I'm about to describe but when I was in my apologetics phase, he was definitely someone that was commonly appealed to alongside several others who are more directly in line with kind of evangelical apologetics, particularly about the resurrection, though there are a couple, a few people who have literally made whole careers out of establishing the historicity of the resurrection, particularly with an eye to using it and apologetic arguments. And establishing historia. Graphically, I won't name these people, but you can Google them, find out who they are, if you want, that the resurrection happened. I myself have made cases like this and blogs that have been deleted. For you know, the resurrection being the most rational explanation of all the historical data points that we have. And now, I just don't know that that's a valuable endeavor. So what do you think does is the resurrection the sort of thing that needs to be proved? Should it have arguments that justify it to non believers? Is there a place for arguments like that? Easter sure, is always a time when a plethora of new blogs and podcasts along those line sermons along those lines come out? Did those things have a place? In your view? Yeah.
But in a limited fashion, right? Like, I think they have a place in that. If we listen to NT, right, give his case for the resurrection. He's tells a story of he's got a professor friend, who's an atheist who asked him, Why do you believe in the resurrection. So we sent him this basically wrote an essay, and went through why he thinks the resurrection is more more than likely historic event. And he said that his colleague, and I trust into your eyes, not lying, he said, his colleagues said, you make a really good case. As a matter of fact, I can like I could go along the logic of it, I just choose not to, I choose not to believe, you know, so that's, that's encouraging to me, as a Christian who wants to believe in the resurrection, that you can set it up and you can follow the breadcrumb trail. And it leads you to like not being crazy, for believing in the fact that Jesus is alive. I like that. But where I said it in a limited fashion, I would never want to base my faith in the resurrection, off of a provability of the resurrection, because then I might as well throw it out right away. I think it's a hopeless endeavor, like we're never going to be able to prove the resurrection of Jesus. And so I think those are fun exercises, they're worth considering it's fun, considering the, perhaps the logic of it and make sense of the early church and why people like Peter suffered crazy deaths, because of, you know, perhaps the the resurrected Jesus that he saw. But at the end of the day, it's going to come down to faith. And I think it's a dangerous proposition to that faith. If you make the provability or the historicity of it rests on everything, because then it's no longer faith, then we're dealing with certainty. And your faith is going to flame up.
Yeah, yeah. And you're never going to understand it, you know. And the very dangerous thing about this kind of apologetics is, and I won't take you too far afield on that topic. But it happens as much of the resurrection as anything else is reading the people who work on that, who can be very convincing, right, they're often quite smart and are good at stringing arguments together, and selecting the evidence that best supports those arguments. And a lay person can come away from those things, being overly confident, we've talked about that before being really convinced that the evidence must surely point in this direction, and really never have any idea of all the counter arguments unless they seriously search for them, they're gonna get the counter arguments, via the people who are critiquing them, right. And they're never going to quite understand why the vast overwhelming majority of people who have thought carefully about all the same sources of data and evidence and argument disagree. And they're going to chalk it up to some kind of lack of faith, or they're going to chalk it up to some kind of, you know, secular bias of scholarship that doesn't want to countenance the possibility of anything supernatural or something like that. And that's unfortunate, right? Because it's just not true. Just talk to some historians who don't believe in a resurrection, some, some experts in the specific times and even experts in the biblical texts themselves who don't, and you'll see that it's not just failure, faith, right, or a failure to understand the argumentation. It's, it's something quite different. It's legitimate, reasonable disagreement. So that's one worry with it another as the Kierkegaardian worry of, even if you approach this in the best possible way, your reason it's just a risky way to approach something as central and significant as the resurrection. If the point of that is faith, you started out your description of it at the beginning of this episode, in a theological way, and I think it's exactly the right way to frame it. And if the point of it is a decision that we call faith, then what good is approaching it evidential are going to get you Yes. Is it going to help? Is it going to hinder it? It's going to make it harder to have faith and I think it might. Some of the stuff we talked about with Kierkegaard and contemporary deities is related to that, like if I really believe that Jesus is as present to me as he was to Thomas, or to whoever, then yeah, what is all that historic graph? Work gonna get me at the end of the day other than feeling a little better about how it stacks up next to all the other religious options or irreligious options, all of which are kind of weird, right? Yeah. So maybe the one shred of this apologetic take that I have left in me is that nobody really has any idea about the afterlife. And the Christian version of it isn't that much weirder than any of the other, including the atheist ones, by the way, guys, like you guys think you're gonna like, become, I don't know, part of a tree or something. And like, that's fine. But it's strange. Like, if you think carefully about consciousness just kind of coming online, in this part of the universe for no apparent reason. And then I guess just extinguishing or if you're some kind of Buddhists, maybe, or pan psychist, continuing in some other way. It's weird. It's weird. And we have no explanation for it. And we yeah, we can't rule out any of the religious texts either. So yep, that's good. There are no non weird options.
I like that. Yep.
So Randy, earlier you said this kind of conversation frustrates you kind of annoys you? Why?
Yeah, it's not just it's not this conversation. I appreciate this conversation to an extent,
as as far as you can appreciate any conversation with me.
Probably this one a little less a little bit. No, but there's two camps that annoy me one in particular, and it's the Christian, the fundamentalist Christian camp, in their approach to this. And it's all wrapped up in certainty. And it just drives me absolutely bonkers. To take anything about our Faith with certainty, I think is completely nonsensical. We've talked about it at nauseam, but those are the kinds of Christians that make me closer to losing my faith. Because it's like that kind of certainty. That kind of belief is just nonsensical, and trying to make it logical sensical. provable certain, is an exercise in futility. Like I'm smart enough to see that right. And so I think the, the arguments for the apologetics for the resurrection just drives me absolutely bonkers. And draws me away from faith on on the same kind of a similar notes, these philosophical conversations that talk about how if you're a materialist, resurrection can't happen. It's an impossibility. It's a you know, it's just, it's an absurdity. Those kinds of conversations, I think, have their place. Like we need to be rational human beings, we need to be logical, we need to pursue the truth to the end as far as we can. But there's a there's a point where I get to where I feel like the mix of a grumpy old man, and in a kid in the better sense of just saying, leave me alone. I like believing in the resurrection. And I mean that sincerely, actually, I hope there's I hope this, these kinds of conversations don't exist within my world, forever. And that like I'm like, all of my faith rests on these conversations. There comes a point where I just want to, I just enjoy believing in the resurrection. I legitimately do. I enjoy believing that there's more possible enjoy believing that hope in new creation in the world says headed somewhere good. All the things that I've said throughout this episode, I really enjoy believing in them. I really enjoy hoping that that we're headed towards that. And there can come a point when these conversations aren't productive for me anymore. Yeah. Where they're actually they hinder and kind of mute my faith in ways that I don't want it muted. Yeah, if that makes sense. I'm I want to sit in this, like, tension in this in between place of saying, I know that I want to be able to talk with a philosopher and have, you know, rational conversation with them and consider all the reality of the situation, while also saying yeah, but I still believe it. Yeah, and I don't care.
Yeah, I'm of two minds about that. Because, I mean, it really depends on the source. Like, I had students with very similar attitude who had not earned it. Yes, yes, yes. And that I'm not okay. Yes, pedagogically. But that's not you, right. I know where you're coming from there. I know. You're aware of the difficulties I am. And I'm totally okay. I think at this moment, I'm okay. With that, like, psychological. You know what, this makes me happy, not hurting anybody. It makes sense for a lot of things. I'm gonna believe this.
And it's, it is that it's just also, I don't think I'm ever gonna get to a point where I can say this is this is logical, historical, verifiable all that. I don't think I'm gonna get to that place. But I also don't think I'm going to get to a place I don't think I don't know. But I don't think I'm going to get to a place where I let the logic of that conversation of Augustine is burned up manuscript. Say, Yeah, you know what, that's right. I don't believe in the resurrection. I might, I might, but in this moment, in after having a lot of conversations with people like you with mostly with you, my face still stands. And I'm thankful for it. And I want to have these conversations while embracing and holding to mystery. Because I think that you have to as a human, I think you have to like you have to become comfortable with mystery, uncertainty, wonder we're not going to be able to explain existence until you know, like, we're talking about big, big stuff. And I like choosing faith, it actually is. It's why I'm a Christian. It's because I choose hope over despair. It's I choose to believe in life over death, I choose to believe in resurrection over decay. I choose it happily and wholeheartedly while knowing I don't know.
Do you really believe in the resurrection? If you don't live it in some way? And what does it mean to live it?
Yeah, no, that's the question that I like, talking through. Obviously, you can believe in something and just let it be and sit off to the side. You can do that. Right? Sure. But do you really believe it? I think it like you emphasized I think is the true question. Do you really believe it? So in here's the here's the deal. Can you believe in the resurrection? And support the death penalty? Can you believe in the resurrection? And be excited that your dirty rotten sinner of a neighbor who's gay is going to burn in hell? Can you believe in the resurrection? And be completely fine with violence? grotesque, nasty, useless, meaningless violence? I could go on down the list, right? Can you believe in the resurrection? And supports politicians? Who advance policies of death? Can you believe in the resurrection? And give up on relationships? I could go I could do this all day. Right? I think the answer is kind of no. You know, I mean, by kind of, I mean, like, millions of people have, say they believe in the resurrection and support all that stuff. However, I don't think there's as much integrity to it. I think if we are really people of the resurrection, and that's the that's the thing, or do we just believe in it? Or are we people of the resurrection? Do I embody the resurrection? Do I live out the resurrection? Do I see resurrection around me? Do I want to orient my life around the possibility and the idea and concept of resurrection? Do I want to not give up on people? Do I want to not give up on people groups do I want? I think this is what it means to believe in the resurrection is to be a people of resurrection who embodies Brian's on calls it being trailers for the resurrection in thing, previews of what the resurrection will look like. That's what it means to be a Christian to me. What are your thoughts?
No, that's that resounds with me deeply. That's very powerful. Yeah, it's it's difficult to imagine what a life like that would look like in practice. I mean, we can point to exemplars who have come close. It's difficult to imagine like a mundane version of it, though, because all of our exemplars are just like, almost larger than life counting on mundane like normal. Yeah, like not Mother Teresa. Sure, you know what I mean, or not? I don't know, pick your current favorite, great person who's clearly like Shankly, bringing life from death, in very concrete, measurable ways. Or at least even just being being present in the suffering and death of others, which is a lot of what Mother Teresa did. A lot of what Shane does, as far as I understand it,
living out your faith with integrity, letting it affect everything, you know, somebody with me, like me with a job.
And a normal, you know, American person like, yeah, what is embodying the resurrection? Other than, you know, not supporting all the kinds of policies and stuff you were describing, and maybe trying to vote a little better, right, I can do that. But yeah, more more concretely than that, I guess what does resurrection centered life look like for someone who is not like on the track to be a saint?
Right, right. Well, I mean, saints would probably tell you that like, it's a lot more common than, than your IRA would ever imagine. But in a hole to that, actually. But I think there's a way of interacting with the world. All of the world, the earth, human beings, family, church, workplace, all of it. I think there's a there's a fundamentally different way of interacting with the world around you. That reflects the resurrection in like really small ways. But you can I can notice them in myself. That's all I can say is that I can notice in myself, when I choose to, to fixate into imagine resurrection and what that looks like in my world. I feel more hopeful substantially. The trees and the the the world around me actually takes on more meaning when I think and believe in the lean into resurrection, like Paul was saying in Romans eight all of Christian longing for the sons of God to be revealed. Human beings have more possibility to me when I when I kind of lean into the resurrection interactions become a little bit less meaningless. Like there's all sorts of ways in which like my mundane life like you're talking about becomes a little bit less mundane, if the resurrection is true.
Yeah. That's good so one thing that we're going to try to start doing around here is asking specific questions or maybe having specific parts of our conversation just for our Patreon supporters, just because we're super grateful for them, love them. So I'm gonna try to start building into the outline each time cool thing just for you guys. So if you're a Patreon supporter, stick around for the answer to the next question, which is going to be what has been the most meaningful Easter experience that you've had. If you're not a Patreon supporter, become one if you want to enhance it so to close this last question, is there any art or music or anything meditative? That is especially meaningful to you about Easter or lint or getting in the mood of Good Friday or anything like that you want to recommend my favorite the the album that I returned to every year since it came out? Is Soufiane. Stevens Carrie and Lowell who album, the whole thing is about death, and resurrection. I don't know if that was intentional, but but that's what it's about. And it's gorgeous and Sablon and everyone should go listen to
it. That's fun. I want to like Soufiane more than I do. You know, in
the deceptive to be fair, I felt that way for a few years. This album, absolutely clinched it for me. I was already kind of liking them. But this one really did it. So give it a shot.
Cool. No, I absolutely will. I will just say no. I mean there's no there's no art that's like, caught me off guard and taking my breath away music does it for me like music is that art form that does it so the classic hymns Christ Lord has risen today I know that my Redeemer lives and then there's the new ones. He'll song even though we crapped all over him. In a previous episode. Yeah, there's some righteous songs about the resurrection. They do some stuff well, incredible and good theological songs, you know. So there are some Hillsong songs like that get me every time. But I will say as far as art goes, when I look to pieces of art that speak theologically to me, and not just theologically, but spiritually, it's always Eastern Orthodox icons. It's always arts that came out of Eastern Orthodox theology, because they have such a robust theology of resurrection, they have such a robust eschatology, and it's all centered on Jesus conquering all in Jesus. You know, there's there's incredible pieces of art of Jesus evacuating hell in taking Ephesians four, seriously, and Jesus is the ultimate Victor. It's Christus Victor all the way through and Eastern Orthodox art, and I love it.
It's cool. I don't think I've ever seen a piece of really, I mean, I'm sure I have in some cathedral somewhere, but like, none of them come to mind. It's like,
it's, it's ornate and colorful and rich and kind of almost embellished. You know what I mean? But it's rich like in there's so much symbolism. It's like the book of Revelation, these icons. Yeah, every little piece of it means something and speaks to something really cool. Awesome. And so with all this conversation in mind of thinking about the philosophical stuff, and the logical stuff, and the illogical stuff and historical stuff, friends, we just bless you to sit in the mystery of the resurrection. And to live out the beauty of the resurrection. Happy Easter. Happy Easter.
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