Not Dying is Not Sufficient

Christianity is all about resurrection. It is crucial, therefore, to recognize and try to understand the importance of resurrection. One way to not do that is by playing fast and loose with the term “resurrection”. This is easily and often done, for example, by identifying Jesus’ raising Lazarus or Jairus’ daughterfrom the dead as Jesus’ resurrecting Lazarus or Jairus’ daughter.

Jesus raising Lazarus, et al. from the dead may have been a sign of what was to come (resurrection), but it was not the thing itself. It would be more accurate to speak of the revivification of Lazarus, or simply Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (although even “raised” in most contexts refers to resurrection proper). What, then, is the key difference between resurrection and these other cases of rising from the dead?

dali21Some, who although are careful to distinguish resurrection from these other cases, nonetheless miss the key difference. The difference is not, as is commonly thought, that those who are resurrected will not taste death again, whereas those who are merely raised from the dead will. It is true that the resurrected will not die again. That, however, is a necessary but not sufficient condition for resurrection. Consider: suppose after Jesus raised him from the dead, God assumed Lazarus into heaven like He did Enoch and Elijah. We’d have a case of rising from the dead without a “second death,” but still not resurrection.

The key difference is that the resurrected have the transformed, glorified body; the kind that allowed Jesus to (apparently) walk through walls and the kind Paul describes in 1 Cor 15. The resurrected won’t die again precisely because death can’t touch the transformed body. To repeat, it is not because Lazarus died again that his rising wasn’t a resurrection; it it because he wasn’t raised with a transformed body. CARM rightly sees the glorified body as salient, but confusedly distinguishes two kinds of resurrection rather than distinguishing resurrection from revivification or raisings from the dead. This, again, plays fast and loose. There is no resurrection without a glorified body.

This is one reason I love Dali’s Corpus Hypercubus, where Christ is hanging on an unfolded hypercube, which happens to take the shape of a cross. More popularly interpreted to mean Christ’s divine nature can’t be fully grasped by us, the wound-less body on the rising cross calls to my mind resurrection–there’s something ‘extra-dimensional’ about that restored, radiant body, the hypercube representing both that extra-dimensional reality as well as the gateway to it.