Theology Issues Links
What is a God
Basic Questions for Theology
Criteria for Good News
Major Theological Differences
Why God not More Involved?
Determinism & Foreknowledge
The Question of Blame
Personal Relationship with God
Awareness Level of "God"
The Case for Unity
The Issue of Brotherhood
Destiny of Man
What about Death?
The Gift of Miracles
Who WAS Jesus?
Sin and Evil
The Problem of Evil
Meaning of Word Sin
The Devil and Satan
Credibility of the Resurrection
The Issue of Physicality
Nothing Much for 2000 years?
Waiting for Godot
The Issues of Belief
Contrast of Believers
Agonizing, Praying Jesus
A Look at Legalism
"Born Again" and Nicodemus
Comments on Nicene Creed
Christianity and Gnosticism
Empowerment vs Natural Law
Gospel of Thomas not Gnostic
Gradations of Grace
Humanism versus Jesus
Idealism, Value of
Meaning of Imminent
Rich Young Ruler Account
Something Meaningful Article
"Take up your cross"
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
— Edna St.
Vincent Millay (She died anyway in 1950)
"To the followers of Pythagoras the world and its
phenomena were all illusion. Centuries later the Egyptian [?] mystic
Plotinus taught the same doctrine, that the external world is a mere
phantom, and the mystical schools of Christianity took it up in turn.
In every age the mystically inclined have delighted in dreaming that
everything is a dream, the mere visible reflection of an invisible
reality. In truth the delusion lies in the mind of the mystic, not in
the things seen. The alleged untrustworthiness of our senses we flatly
deny. We frequently misinterpret the messages they bring, it is true,
but that is no fault of the senses. The interpretation of sense
impressions is something to be learned; we never learn it fully; we are
liable to blunder through all our days, but that gives us no right to
call our senses liars. It is our judgment, not the sense of sight, that
is occasionally deceived. We not only wrong our honest senses but also
lose our grip upon this most substantial world when we let mistaken
metaphysics persuade us to doubt the testimony they bear. -
Scientific American July 1875 Reprinted: July, 1975, p. 10B.
In certain circles of spiritual thought, it is
fashionable to think that the problems of the human race are tied to our
being physical. In trying to understand some aspects of the origin of
evil, the mystery of iniquity if you will, it is held that the fall of
mankind was in part if not in whole the result of some choice to inhabit
a realm of time, dimension, tangible matter and form, and to have
physical bodies with their aspects of needs and appetites. This development of otherwise "spiritual" beings is
considered by some to be an unwise choice, one to open up the Pandora's box of
carnality and the various enjoyments of fleshly needs and desires.
Some try to soften their negative judgment of
physicality by thinking of this as an "innocent mistake".
Mistake or Intention?
Just to make
the issue stark and clear, the physical, material realm of matter,
dimension and form was either a mistake or it was what the creator
intended; it was his selected medium for the panorama of creating real
estate and having children and living and loving together. Why does anyone
think it is
legitimate and/or intellectually responsible to propose an
indefinable, timeless, dimensionless ideal state? Who can even imagine
such a thing? Who would even want to go there? NO ONE! At least no one that
is not under serious duress.
course these features of a material existence include the aspects of the five physical
senses, such as
sight and enjoying visual aesthetics, taste and enjoying eating,
drinking and savoring the various flavors, hearing and enjoying sonic-based aesthetics including music, smell and the
enjoyment of exquisite aromas, and tactile sense and the enjoyment of not only
textures but also of sensual stimulation and the touch of affection. What follows--it is sometimes
thought--is that the ultimate evil culmination of this erroneous path was the
development of sexual activity, which generally incorporates stimulation of
physical senses. While much of religious sentiment accepts the more
mundane aspects of physicality and pleasurable activity, it would
ultimately exclude the sexual dimension of our experience.
"The body has gotten a bad rap in the West. From the
Greek philosophers to modern, conservative, religious theologians,
the history of the body in Western thought is grim. A tragic
mistranslation renders St. Paul as saying that the body is opposed
to the spirit (Gal. 5:17), to the result of two millennia of sincere
people mortifying the flesh for "spiritual" purposes. Augustine
asserted that "the soul makes war with the body," and Calvin viewed
earthly human existence as being no better than a worm. Even St.
Francis condescendingly made reference to his own body as "Brother
Ass." The magnitude of psychological suffering this has caused in
literally millions of people through the ages is criminal. We have
been convinced that the physical world, and with it, our physical
selves, are corrupt, depraved, and worthy of our scorn and abuse.
The body has been viewed as a cruel cage from which the soul longs
to escape to some ethereal, nebulous realm."—There Is No
Salvation (apart from the body) by John R. Mabry, who is editor of
CREATION SPIRITUALITY magazine. MAY/JUNE 1991 CREATION SPIRITUALITY
Now, there is no question but that physicality in our world brings a
plethora of problems, not the least of which is vulnerability to physical
harm through injury and disease from a wide variety of agents of danger. It
also brings a dependence upon a steady diet of food and drink, adequate
temperature range, an environment supporting biological functionality and
adequate operation of the physical senses. You not only need a very special
atmosphere to breathe and to hear within, but you need light to see, and
this has to be within a narrow range of frequency and intensity to be either
beneficial or benign. There are also many other specifications for a
life-support system or biosphere. We recognize all of this currently comes along with the "inevitable?"
deterioration that we experience just by living and aging.
Of course, another downside to physicality is that some
people do descend into hedonism, which we will define as irresponsible
pleasure seeking. And not just hedonism but dissolution, debasement, and
degradation. But it doesn't follow that mere physicality would determine
this, but rather that spiritual malaise or venality would induce it.
All of the above is dependent upon having a physical, or
material universe. A universe of electrical particles, atoms, elements,
molecules and various other structures built out of these parts. A
functioning human body sits atop an enormous pyramid of atomic,
chemical, biological structures and biochemical and anatomical systems that support it. In an
ideal state of reality, why not dismiss all of this and just be
"spiritual" beings that focus on the intellectual and
emotional realms? My answer is a another question: Who would want such
a sterile, unbalanced existence bereft of physical enhancements?
Jesus affirms physicality
HOWEVER, whatever else you might think or say from your paradigm
of reality, you cannot connect Jesus to this concept. You cannot hold
that Jesus said ANYTHING to suggest that physicality was a proton psuedos, a fundamental mistake or an
undesirable development! Most everything he said and did AFFIRMED
physicality and health. Of course, not only did he eat and drink and
breathe, but he clearly enjoyed these activities. His very first public
miracle was to produce wine from water for the enjoyment of the wedding
gala, and he fed the crowds when they were hungry. He went to dinner
parties, and contrasted himself with the ascetic John the Baptist.
Not only did most of his miracles involve the healing of physical
maladies, but he did these out of compassion EVEN when he ran
the risk of stirring up trouble with the religious authorities. Nowhere
did he say to one suffering from a physical ailment that it was all in
their mind, or an illusion, or that they should dismiss it as of no real
consequence, or that they should mentally or through dint of will
overcome the pain or the desire to be healed physically.
He didn't just go so far as to snatch people back from
the brink of death, but also to resurrect some people, which included
Lazarus. If physicality is an unwise or an unhealthy development made by
fallen man in the scheme of things, I don't know how you can justify him
doing this! If Lazarus was inevitably headed for the grave again, it is hard to understand how he could justify this
otherwise premature resurrection anyway,
Not only was he offering physical immortality to those
who believed his message and followed his directions—almost nobody, if not
nobody—, but Jesus himself clearly didn't want to die. At the last hour
in the garden he agonized with the father over his impending death,
probably by raising the possibility that maybe there was something more
that he could do or say that would make the difference to wake people up
out of the intoxication of their religion, their paradigm of the
other-than-human god of power and control instead of the human god of
love and sharing. It is noteworthy in his overall support of physicality that next
to the last act of Jesus was to say, "I thirst", and to drink when it
was offered to him before saying, "It is finished".
And the capstone of his affirmation of physicality was his own
resurrection, not just to a body but to the SAME body with the SAME features replete with his recent wounds or scars. If the great
secret of spiritual success is to transcend having a body, why would he
do this? No, not only is the loss of having a physical body anathema to
the ordinary individual, but it is not supported by ANYTHING that the
J-person did or said.