Like always, I start a new study and I hit upon just the right book. Without realizing its references to Greek philosophy, I recently started N.T. Wright’s book “Surprised By Hope”. I have only started, but I have already found fascinating the links between our ways of seeing the world and Greek Platonic philosophy.
On page 26, I found these statements “But my impression is that religion is an opium when the religion in question includes the Platonic downgrading of bodies and of the created order in general… By contrast, it has often been observed that the robust Jewish and Christian doctrine of the resurrection, as part of God’s new creation, gives more value, not less, to the present world and to our present bodies.”
For many years, I have found something lacking in Western Christian teachings on the bodily resurrection. I see it clearly referred to in the New Testament, but it is noticeably absent from ordinary sermons and even from most funerals. When it is mentioned at funerals, it often seems the pastor is uncomfortable on how literally to take the bodily resurrection.
Growing up in the Appalachian mountains, passed down hymns often refer to the physical sufferings of this present body and a hope of a new home and a new body. This clearly is a reference to the resurrection, but its focus on the suffering of this present body seems to embody Platonic beliefs on the soul being separate from the body as well as death being a release from bodily limitations.
It appears from N.T. Wright’s book that a belief based on the Jewish teachings on resurrection may be different than Christianity derived from Platonic philosophy. Several years ago I realized a solid teaching on the Trinity is essential to the common church, now I am starting to feel that a solid view of the resurrection may be almost as important. My study is only beginning, and I have much to learn (and un-learn). If you have any ideas or references, please e-mail me at email@example.com or leave a comment.