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Washington Episcopal Bishop Denies Bodily Resurrection of Jesus

Washington Episcopal Bishop Denies Bodily Resurrection of Jesus


By David W. Virtue
March 31, 2013

Washington Episcopal Bishop Marianne Budde, writing in her blog on the subject of Resurrection, opined that if someone were to discover a tomb with Jesus' remains in it, the entire enterprise would not come crashing down.

VOL: Actually, Bishop it would. Our faith would be in vain and we would be of all men (and women) most miserable. St. Paul writes in I Cor. 15, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."

BUDDE: Someone once asked me if I thought the resurrection was necessary. He meant it in the most sincere way, as a person of both faith and doubt who wondered if we needed to be bound by so unreasonable a proposition that Jesus' tomb was, in fact, empty on that first Easter morning. I hesitated in answering because there seemed to be layers of argument behind the question. My answer was yes, resurrection is the foundation of Christian faith, but probably not in the way he meant it.

VOL: What way is that, Bishop?

BUDDE: To say that resurrection is essential doesn't mean that if someone were to discover a tomb with Jesus' remains in it that the entire enterprise would come crashing down. The truth is that we don't know what happened to Jesus after his death, anymore than we can know what will happen to us. What we do know from the stories handed down is how Jesus' followers experienced his resurrection. What we know is how we experience resurrection ourselves.

VOL: Total rubbish, Bishop. This is pure solipsism and subjectivism. (See above.) There were eyewitnesses to the event. The Bible says the risen Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene and other women. Even the apostles did not believe Mary when she told them the tomb was empty. Jesus, who always had special respect for these women, honored them as the first eyewitnesses to his resurrection. Now I would have thought, Bishop that you, as a raging feminist, would have latched onto that if for no other reason than that women were the first to see and believe. The male Gospel writers had no choice but to report this embarrassing act of God's favor, because that was how it happened. Your argument also completely ignores the historical fact of Christ's resurrection that no serious theologian has ever really denied (and please don't defer to Spong or Countrymen as they are jokes). St. Paul through Augustine to Cranmer, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Billy Graham and Rick Warren and tens of thousands of archbishops, bishops and laity in between, have all affirmed the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Not a single Pope has ever denied it.

"How we experience resurrection ourselves..." could just as easily apply to ice cream or a good steak dinner. Building your argument on experience is as vacuous and empty-headed as a teenager announcing he's hungry after quaffing down an entire 5-course dinner (with seconds) and then declaring that his experience tells him that he wants more.

One Episcopal theologian upon reading Bishop Budde's take wrote to VOL, "Judicious, seemingly reasonable -- and utterly inadequate. We 'don't know what happened to Jesus after his death'? Really? Why bother?"

BUDDE: That experience is the beginning of faith, not in the sense of intellectual acceptance of an outlandish proposition, but of being touched by something so powerful that it changes you, or so gentle that it gives you courage to persevere when life is crushingly hard. It is experiencing a presence so forgiving that you can at last forgive yourself for your greatest failings, and forgive those whose failings have wounded you, and so loving that your own capacity to love expands beyond your wildest imagining.

VOL: Tim Keller, a Presbyterian preacher in New York City, says that if you spiritualize the resurrection of Jesus, you will have comfort but not the truth. The message of Easter is that right now, Jesus has flesh and bones.

BUDDE: Resurrection is an experience that touches us where we live, not on the level of opinion or argument, but at the heart of everything we hold dear. As we face the anxiety and fear of death, Jesus assures us of God's infinite mercy waiting on the other side. As we carry the burdens of our own failings, Jesus comes with forgiveness-not abstractly, but personally and with great specificity. And as we feel the weight of our own self-consciousness, Jesus comes with the lightest touch. It isn't all about you, he gently chides. It isn't all up to you. "Your great mistake," writes the poet David Whyte, "is to act the drama as if you were alone."

VOL: Actually, Bishop, it is not our "self-consciousness" that is the problem. It is our SINFULNESS and David Whyte doesn't really get the hang of that based on the poetry of his that I have read. Mystical yes, salvific no. What you are offering, Bishop, is resurrection lite. It is not nearly satisfactory for a sin torn world that needs to know not only that Jesus rose bodily from the grave but that he alone has the power to forgive sins. He died that we might live and in His resurrection we are justified and made righteous. If you continue to sound an uncertain trumpet on something as basic as the bodily resurrection of Jesus, your diocese which is on the verge of bankruptcy, sustained only by the Soper Fund, will continue to decline and your cry for "more laity" will continue to fall on deaf ears.

Your views border on the heresy of Docetism, Bishop, a view that held that the disciples thought his body had been actually reanimated. Docetism taught that Jesus only appeared to have a body, that he was not really incarnate, (Greek, "dokeo" = "to seem"). This error developed out of the dualistic philosophy which viewed matter as inherently evil, that God could not be associated with matter, and that God, being perfect and infinite, could not suffer. Therefore, God as the word, could not have become flesh per John 1:1,14, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.. " This denial of a true incarnation meant that Jesus did not truly suffer on the cross and that He did not rise from the dead.

The basic principle of Docetism was refuted by the Apostle John in 1 John 4:2-3. "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world."

There are at least seven proofs for the Resurrection Proof that would be well worth your while declaiming from the pulpit in Washington National Cathedral bishop and they are these:

#1: The Empty Tomb of Jesus
#2: The Holy Women Eyewitnesses
#3: Jesus' Apostles' New-Found Courage
#4: Changed Lives of James and Others
#5: Large Crowd of Eyewitnesses
#6: Conversion of Paul
#7: They Died for Jesus

If you don't, Bishop, your diocese will continue to rot from the inside out and, in time, die.

Seven Stanzas At Easter

By John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that--pierced--died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck's quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.


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