Monday, April 24, 2017

Interview with Douglas Douma: Author of the Recent Biography of Gordon H. Clark

Douglas Douma is among those unique Christian scholars who is able to bring a broad and varied range of intellectual perspective to his analysis and writing. He has an engineering degree from the University of Michigan, an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University, and an Mdiv from Sangre de Cristo Seminary. That he claims to have learned far more from books than in school is certainly a testament to his curiosity and passion for learning. I mentioned that his writing in the book was well done and I enjoyed reading it. There is also a lot of interesting information on his blogsite https://douglasdouma.wordpress.com/ and I commend it to you.

In the previous post, I reviewed his recent biography of Gordon H. Clark titled The Presbyterian Philosopher. Mr. Douma was kind enough to take time to answer questions about Dr. Clark and his book. I am pleased to share that interaction with you. I pray it will be of interest to those who want to learn more about Dr. Clark.

1)     Could you briefly share a little bit about your background and how you first encountered Dr. Clark or his work?

I grew up in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Though having read Christian theology books since I was 14, I had very little knowledge of philosophy. I took just two philosophy courses in college (at the University of Michigan). One on Logic and one on Knowledge. This was years before I came across Clark's writings.

While considering seminary, particularly the Lutheran one – Concordia Seminary in St. Louis – I began to ask deeper questions of the faith. Not finding much in the realm of intellectual Lutheran books I broadened my search. I read a lot of Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Hugh Ross, Francis Scheaffer, and a number of others. Yet I was not very satisfied with them. Most of what I found in “Reformed Epistemology” was merely a defense of Theism. This was of little interest to me while I was considering a life in the Christian pastorate.

The time of my intellectual “awakening” was in 2007 and the cliché “it started with Ayn Rand” largely applied to me. I read about ten of Ayn Rand's books while also getting into Libertarianism and especially the Austrian School of Economics. I read everything I could find of Ron Paul, Ludwig von Mises, and Murray Rothbard, among others.

Though largely agreeing with the Austrians on Economics, I was dissatisfied with Rand's more general philosophy and still saw Christianity (in the limited form I knew it) to be a better solution.

I came across and then read a book called “Without a Prayer: Ayn Rand and the Close of Her System” by John Robbins. This basically completed my falling away from interest in Rand. At the end of Robbins book also I saw what I thought was an overly praiseworthy note about someone named “Gordon H. Clark,” a Calvinist. Calvinism was still a scary word for me.

Sometime later, searching for “Christian intellectuals” and “Christian Philosophy”, I came across Gordon Clark's “An Introduction to Christian Philosophy.” Having seen his name in the Robbins book I thought I'd give him a chance. And still to this day “An Introduction to Christian Philosophy” is the single most influential thing in my mind outside of Scripture.

Over time, for 4 years I read nearly all of Gordon Clark' 40+ books during my evenings, during my lunch breaks, and wherever I could sneak in the time.

2)     Why did you think it was important for there to be a biography of Dr. Clark and what motivated you to be to be the one to do it?

After reading many of Clark's books I realize that he spent 90% of the time critiquing opposing views, and then only 10% of the time formulating his own theories. My first idea was to write a book summarizing these “10%” bits from all of his books. This way, I figured, one could read just one book instead of all 40. I quickly realized, however, that much of Clark's theology intertwined with the historical circumstances of his life and work in the church. To give proper context to the theology I realized a biography was necessary. At first I could find very little biographical information but as the project continued the information came in a steady stream until just the right about necessary for the biography was found. It would be difficult I believe to write a biography on a person less prominent than Dr. Clark unless the person saved many of their own papers.

So, I attended a Reformed seminary based on Clark's influence on my thought. And I chose Sangre de Cristo Seminary as Gordon Clark's papers were housed there. The decision to write the biography coincided with my decision to attend seminary. And, frankly, I probably worked on the biography as much as I worked on my seminary studies.

3)     What was the most surprising thing you learned during your research about Dr. Clark?

I was most surprised to find Dr. Clark's unpublished Systematic Theology. Actually, Andrew Zeller, President of Sangre de Cristo Seminary found the manuscript while searching for papers for the biography.

Of Dr. Clark, himself it might be considered surprising to learn that he did not drive an automobile until sometime in his 40s.

4)     What would you say is the most misunderstood aspect of Clark’s work?

There are a number of controversial points regarding Clark's theology. (Such as the incomprehensibility of God, the Free Offer of the Gospel, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility, the primacy of the intellect, the nature of the incarnation, his views on emotion, and his view of faith as assent to understood propositions).

Perhaps the biggest error is to call him “a rationalist.” I find this term to be utterly lazy and contrary to fact. Though Clark put a high value on logic, it was the Scripture which was his ultimate authority.

As far as misunderstanding, I've read very few who understand Clark's views on the incomprehensibility of God. One frequent error to say Clark believe man's knowledge to be “identical” to God's knowledge. On the contrary, Clark repeatedly denied this accusation. Instead he held that though any proposition known by man was the same proposition known by God, the knowledge is not identical in all aspects because God knows a greater quantity of knowledge than man, and (most importantly) God knows in a different way (or mode) than does man. (God's mode being intuitive and man's mode being discursive.) Along with this misunderstanding is the near universal mistake of those who have written on the Clark – Van Til Controversy to not realize that the very center of the conversation and possibly solution revolved around the definition of “content.”


5)     As you know, there is some debate about the extent to which Clark’s views changed over time. Did your research indicate whether there were any significant modifications to his thought?

I'm familiar with Ryan Hedrich's arguments to the effect that Clark's view on Divine Simplicity changed over time. That is, Ryan believes Clark was opposed to it early on and in favor of it later on. To the extent I've studied the topic, I believe Ryan has made some interesting points, but it is not necessary to conclude that Clark ever opposed Divine Simplicity.

Clark did change his view on the Incarnation. Just a few years before his death he was saying things very much in line with the Chalcedonian Creed's view of the incarnation. However, in Clark's book “The Incarnation” written in the last months of his life, he attempted to improve Chalcedon's formulations. I have high regard for Clark's work, but if there is one thing I'm unsure of the truth of in his writings it is his work in this last book.

An interesting article few know of is Mary Crumpacker's “Clark's Axiom, Something New” where she indicated that Clark's “Wheaton Lectures” (1966) are merely an extension and clarification of his earlier work, and not a radically new proposal.

For the most part, however, I see a strong continuity of thought throughout Clark's life. Most of his major ideas can be seen in his letters and writings in the 1930s and 1940s. 


6)     I mentioned in my review that I would have liked you to have further explored the potential influence of Van Til’s work on Clarks own apologetic. Can you share any further insight into this?

As to your wish that I had explored the relationship of Clark’s thought to that of Van Til’s thought more, I must point out that the record is quite scant. John Frame has said that he heard years ago that Clark and Van Til would take walks together discussing philosophy back in the 1930s in Philadelphia. But other than what I’ve written, and this comment from Frame, there isn’t any extant information about their relationship at the time. One might surmise some things from their theological writings, but the connections are difficult to determine.

One thing of interest you might want to look into is the letters between Van Til and J. Oliver Buswell. Buswell makes something of a 3rd leg of the tripod in the Clark – Van Til discussions. There are more letters between Buswell and Van Til than between Clark and Van Til. There is also a dialogue between them in “The Bible Today” in the late 1940s. I'm not sure this will be of much benefit though as Clark and Van Til are much closer to each other in thought than either is to Buswell.


7)     You had an excellent observation in the book that since Clark primarily worked at secular institutions rather than at a seminary the trajectory of his work proceeded with a higher degree of independence than that of many other Christian scholars.  In what ways do you think that was a benefit and in what ways do you think it was a hindrance?

Clark's relatively isolated studies really helped to avoid “group think.” He wasn't part of the “Westminster faculty” or in on the Bible Presbyterian bandwagon.

The hindrance for Clark was largely with his job prospects, book sales, and connections in the Christian world. Had he been at a Christian Seminary he would have been much more well known.


8)     How would you assess Dr. Clark’s legacy?

I tried to some in the last chapter of the biography. Even doing that I had some difficulty saying much. It is important to realize that much of Dr. Clark's work and tenor was not the same as the aggressiveness you see in the internet debates today. Part of the purpose of the biography is to show who Clark was. In fact, of 915 extant letters only in 4 or 5 of them does Clark write with an aggressive or mean tone.

9)     Which of Dr. Clark’s books would you recommend as a starting point to someone looking to start reading him?

This question comes up from time to time on our Gordon H. Clark Discussions forum on Facebook. I think the most frequent answer — and one with which I agree — is Clark's "Religion, Reason, and Revelation." One of the great things about this book is that from the very start you can see Clark's emphasis on the importance of definitions. His discussion on "What is Religion" was eye-opening to me. 

This "3R's" book is a nice place to start because it is interesting without being too challenging philosophically. Following that I'd recommend "A Christian View of Men and Things," "Three Types of Religious Philosophy," "An Introduction to Christian Philosophy," "Thales to Dewey," and "God's Hammer." These are some of the books of Clark's which address broader topics. Following the reading of these, one can then pick up various books Clark wrote on more specific topics, whether they be on secular philosophers ("Dewey," "William James"), religious thinkers ("Karl Barth's Theological Method"), or Clark's own Christian constructions such as "Historiography," "Language and Theology," "The Trinity," "The Incarnation," and various other topics. This plan would have one read from the more general to the more specific, and generally increasing in rigor. 


10) Many of us have the Trinity Foundation to thank for keeping Dr. Clark’s works published but we now have an entire generation of Christian scholars and pastors that maintain a substantial portion of their libraries electronically. If Dr. Clark is to remain accessible, it seems that it would be advantageous to have his collected works published on Logos. Are you aware of any possibility of that happening? (If not, perhaps a worthwhile suggestion to The Trinity Foundation)

I don't have any information on this question. I'd be glad for Clark's works to be made more accessible electronically. I know from a pastor-friend of mine who is a missionary in remote Cambodia that digital libraries are the only way to go in places where you can't carry dozens of boxes in.


11) Is there anything else you would like to share either about Dr. Clark or the process of writing the book?

I like to emphasize the availability of Clark's lesser known and unpublished writings which I've posted to the Gordon H. Clark Foundation website. http://gordonhclark.reformed.info

I'd be glad to see scholars engage with these papers more.

12) Any other books planned at this time?

A contract has been signed for “Selected Letters of Gordon Haddon Clark” which I've compiled and which will be edited by The Trinity Foundation.

I have an interest in writing a few more books in my life, but am struggling to find anything worth dedicating multiple years of effort towards. I'm glad for suggestions.


13) Before we leave off, I would like to give you the opportunity to share a little about Sola Appalachian Christian Retreat (www.discoversola.com).

We're working on starting a hiker hostel and Christian retreat center on the Appalachian Trail. I see a great need for evangelism there and an opportunity in which I believe we can with the Lord's provision be effective. We plan to offer accommodation and meals to long-distance hikers attempting thru-hikes of the trail. Through evening hymn-sings, morning bible studies, making available small Gideon's New Testaments, being there to answer questions regarding the faith, and living in a way honorable to God, we hope to influence those who visit us to come to know the Gospel.

In the non-hiking season, I hope we'll be able to conduct a 2 or 3 month “term” in a style similar to L'Abri Christian Fellowship and invite hikers back whom we have positively affected during the past year so that they can learn more of the faith.

My wife and I are actively speaking at churches and continuing to raise funds as missionaries. We'd be glad for readers of this interview to consider supporting our mission.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Book Review: The Presbyterian Philosopher: The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark by Douglas Douma



Gordon H. Clark was one of the most important and influential Evangelical thinkers of the 20th century. His influence was particularly strong in the areas of Christian philosophy and apologetics but his contributions, even in those fields, are frequently neglected. I wrote about this nearly 7 years ago in a post titled “The Invisible Giant”. At that time, I remarked to a friend that someone ought to write a biography of Clark since he was not only an influential Christian scholar but was also directly involved in several critical developments in the history of 20th century Evangelicalism. Finally, someone has done just that. Douglas J. Douma’s book The Presbyterian Philosopher fills a significant gap in scholarship related to 20th century Christian history and will hopefully call additional attention to Clark’s work.

 The book is well researched and well written. As is often the case with authorized biographies, it is written with a somewhat sympathetic tone, however, it is not uncritically venerative. Douma does not hesitate to point out areas where even many of Clark’s admirers are hesitant to follow him. Douma writes with skillful clarity, walking the reader through both the convoluted intrigues of Presbyterian politics as well as the complexities of various theological controversies in which Clark was engaged.

Clark became an important influence for me when I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan trying to develop an intellectually coherent understanding of Christianity in light of the critical and postmodern arguments I was encountering. I have read many of Clark’s books and have listened to hours of his recorded lectures and never got the impression of him as the emotionless, humorless, rationalist that his critics often claimed he was. In this book, Douma has brought to life the Gordon H. Clark that seemed most familiar to me; a brilliant, if sometimes difficult, champion for the truth of the Bible as he understood it. I appreciated learning more about the circumstances that made him who he was. The additional background particularly helped me to better understand the polemical elements in Clark’s work.

 The book is broken down into the following 13 chapters and 3 appendices.

1. The Presbyterian Heritage of Gordon Clark
2. Gordon Clark’s Intellectual Influences
3. Gordon Clark and the Formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
4. Gordon Clark at Wheaton College
5. The Origins of Presuppositionalism
6. Origins of the Ordination Controversy
7. The Arguments of the Ordination Controversy
8. The Continued Controversy and Its Results
9. The Butler University Years
10. Four Theological Contributions of Gordon H. Clark
11. “Clark’s Boys”
12. Persons, the Trinity, and the Incarnation
13. Gordon Clark’s Later Years

Appendix A Life Timeline of Gordon H. Clark
Appendix B Notes (mostly chronological information)
Appendix C Studies of the Doctrine of the Complaint

As unique as he was, Clark did not appear out of a vacuum and Douma begins by describing the background to Clark’s intellectual development. This is helpful in understanding the trajectory of some of the later controversies. For example, the conservative “Old Princeton” Presbyterianism in which Clark was immersed not only contributed to his alignment with Machen in the formation of the OPC but Douma convincingly argues it was also a factor in the later controversy with Van Til that has perhaps been underappreciated.

Frequently, discussions on presuppositionalism tend to focus on Clark, Van Til, or subsequent thinkers. I was encouraged to see Douma’s chapter on the development of presuppositionalism acknowledged the basic concepts did not originate with either of them. He points out that James Orr and Abraham Kuyper had already laid much of the foundation of a presuppositional and worldview approach a generation earlier. Douma acknowledges the influence of these earlier thinkers on Clark but suggests that Clark essentially developed his apologetic method independent of that of Cornelius Van Til.

I wish Douma had developed this relationship a bit more. Although he cites elements of Clark’s unique method as being discernable by the early 1930’s, he confirms that Clark was using some of Van Til’s works for a course he was teaching while at Wheaton in 1937. I am unsure why Douma did not explore this as a potential indication that Van Til’s work may have been further along and taken into consideration by Clark as he refined his own.

Throughout the book, Douma carefully explains the events or issues that help the reader to better understand Clark’s writing and/or positions at particular points of his life. He does an excellent job of helping the reader to see Gordon Clark the man in addition to Clark the combatant. The reader can begin to understand that in addition to his attempts at modeling a comprehensive Christian worldview in his scholarship, he also had a vision of a broader cooperation among conservative Christians. Through each controversy, Douma helps us to understand Clark’s motivations as well as the personal challenges each presented.

I was frequently saddened by the many political and ecclesiastical intrigues that Clark was caught up with. To be sure, he did not always respond in a way that helped the situation but on many occasions the treatment of him was shameful. One is left to wonder what was lost to the Evangelical movement as a result of Clark being run out of Wheaton, or to what degree the witness of conservative Presbyterianism was weakened by the fall-out between the Clark and Van Til camps. I was, however, encouraged to learn that apparently, Clark and Van Til seemed to have no personal animosity toward one another later in life. Perhaps that might be an encouragement to those who to this day are still passionately fighting this battle that serious and important theological disagreements among Christians need not degenerate into personal attacks.

Regardless of their personal feelings toward each other, the controversy between the Clark and Van Til camps related to Clark’s ordination is the most well-known controversy in Clark’s career. Douma does a good job of unpacking the various motivations that led to the complaint and the subsequent controversy. Douma clarifies a number of common misunderstandings related to the process itself as well as providing clarification of the positions of Clark and the complainants. Douma is clearly sympathetic to Clark and some will no doubt not appreciate what they will see as Douma’s bias. Nearly 75 years later, this remains a contentious issue in some circles. While clearly in agreement with Clark, I think Douma’s treatment is fair. Several years ago, I read through all the relevant documentation I could get and came to essentially the same conclusion as he did. Perhaps this section of the book could have been improved had Douma more fully developed the concerns of the Van Til contingent but even so, it is an excellent overview of the controversy and the issues involved. 

Overall, The Presbyterian Philosopher is a thoroughly researched and well written survey of the life of one of the most important Christian thinkers of the 20th century. Clark was there from the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 1920’s through the battle of the Bible and the fracturing of Neo-Evangelicalism in the 1970’s. I recommend this book to anyone interested either in Gordon Clark in particular or Evangelical history in general.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Principled Non-Participation: A Worldview Observation

Over the past several weeks there has been a lot of coverage related to supposed controversy over the booking of entertainment talent for president elect Trump’s inauguration celebration.  The band of Talledega College, a historically black school, encountered widespread criticism after announcing they would perform. Country star Toby Keith was also criticized despite explaining that he has performed for several presidents irrespective of their political party or platform.

Others have been shamed into backtracking from their initial acceptance of the invitation to perform. The Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli backed out of consideration after allegedly saying he was “getting too much heat”. Just a couple days ago, Broadway star Jennifer Holiday also backed out and issued an apology, saying her initial acceptance was an example of a lack of judgment and that her “only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT Community” and not perform.

If reports are to be believed, there have been several others who have refused to participate ranging from Elton John and Adam Lambert to high school marching bands and even individual members of the Rockets and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Before we go on any further, I want to point out that I do not really have a problem with individuals deciding not to participate in the event because they believe their participation would somehow compromise their integrity. I also do not have a problem with those who decided to perform or have done so for previous administrations. This article is not about the politics whatsoever. Rather, what I want to point out is a particular observation of how the interaction between worldview and culture influences the perceived ethical or moral value of the decision itself.

Many who are associated with liberal or progressive agendas are horrified by the thought of Donald Trump taking office as the President of the United States. Several of these performers see performing for Trump as somehow legitimizing the event and would rather use the opportunity to highlight the antithesis between certain values he appears to represent and their own. Many ordinary people who are fans also see the participation of cultural icons, particularly those they identify with, in his inauguration as somehow betraying important values they hold dear.

Frankly, as a Christian there are many things that Mr. Trump appears to represent that I also find quite concerning, but what I find more interesting is the way that these withdrawals and public refusals are being portrayed and responded to. It seems that it is now a virtuous act to stand on principal and refuse to participate in adding the perception of legitimacy to a cause that is morally opposed to liberal and progressive convictions. Those supposedly standing up for their “principals” are praised for their courage and integrity.

What is interesting about this is that the underlying logic has so frequently been denied to Christians whose convictions have run afoul of the quickly changing cultural mores. We have seen the criticism levied at company and charity executives who do not “get with the program” regarding company policies support various progressive agendas. We have seen it with pharmacies who are not comfortable with dispensing drugs to end pregnancies. We have seen it related to doctors who choose not to perform certain procedures and we have seen it with photographers and bakers who choose to not participate in homosexual weddings.

The idea that one should stand upon principal and refuse to participate wherever values would be compromised is something that is increasingly only seen as virtuous if the values are those of the new morality. Indeed, to take similar stands for traditional values is often decried as hateful and even criminal.

For example, it was not long ago the State of Colorado ruled that Masterpiece Cake Shop must supply cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies despite the fact that the proprietor was a devout Christian and felt that to do so would compromise his moral convictions. The court ruled that “his religious objections to the practice did not trump the state's anti-discrimination statutes.” Since the shop sold wedding cakes, they could not refuse a client that wanted to purchase one. Cultural progressives applauded this (and other similar decisions) as a triumph of equality. However, when high end fashion designers Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs refused to design a dress Melania Trump, this logic seemed to disappear.


Although the First Amendment is specifically concerned with political and religious speech, the roar of the crowd is growing stronger by the day. Cultural revolutions are not complete until the new consensus is enforceable through the coercion of the crowd and/or the power of the state. The divisions that this election has highlighted (and perhaps deepened) are complex and varied. Attempts at reducing them to simple explanations are bound to fail. What is clear, however, is that we are seeing more clearly the response of a new and still insecure orthodoxy when it perceives itself to be challenged and the picture is troubling for those who wish to proactively engage the culture but whose convictions are antithetical to its newfound morality. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bodily Resurrection: Part 3 (Theological Significance)

Things have finally settled down enough for me to get to the next installment in the series. In the previous posts, I have attempted to show that both the Old Testament and New Testament clearly teach a physical bodily resurrection. I think there are perhaps better theological arguments against full preterism (that I may explore in future posts) but I have focused on physical resurrection because I think it is the clearest and most straightforward exegetical argument. Even so, physical resurrection is theologically significant in its own right. My goal in this post is to highlight several elements of the theological significance of physical bodily resurrection.

In my view, the most significant theological implication of denying the physical resurrection is that it undermines the role of Christ as redeemer. If the work of Christ merely creates an escape for righteous souls, then sin and death have succeeded in eternally undermining the work of God in physical creation. In preterism, rather than redeeming the fallen creation, Christ simply evacuates His people. It turns the physical and fully human incarnation of Christ into a theological oddity rather than a logically necessary part of the redemptive plan of God. Why become human in the full sense if the mission is merely to provide escape for the soul?

The preterist theology is far less comprehensive with regard to God’s glory in creation than is orthodox theology. In the end, it is much more aligned with a Platonic or Gnostic worldview than the holistic redemptive flow involved in the promises to Adam, Eve, and the prophets. If all prophesy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. and physical bodily resurrection is denied, there is no vindication of God in creation. The notion of redeeming the creative work is essentially discarded. In contrast, notice that in Paul’s theology the restoration of the physical world is part of the broader redemptive work and is closely connected with the glorification of our physical bodies.

"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:19-23)

Unless there is physical salvation as well as spiritual salvation, Christ is not a redeemer of the fallen creation and Christ's role as a second Adam is severely truncated.

Connected to this distortion of Christ’s redemptive role resulting from a denial of physical resurrection is the particular problem of the scope of Christ’s atoning work in relation to the believers as whole persons. Although it is common for people to speak about Christ’s blood being the price paid for our souls, the Bible extends the blood bought purchase and subsequent union with Christ to the whole person, including the body. In 1 Corinthians, while discussing the importance of holiness with regard to our bodies, Paul says, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 6:15) He explains further “… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

This is tremendously significant. Since our bodies are members of Christ and have been purchased with Christ’s blood it would be most strange that something bought with such a high price and sanctified to the glory of God be discarded to rot in the ground. Even more profoundly, since our bodies are members of Christ, to deny physical resurrection is to assert that sin, death, and the grave retain power over the members of Christ! The implication is that the conquest of Christ over these enemies is either a spiritualization or is incomplete. It is only by recognizing the future fulfillment of the fullness of redemption, including physical resurrection, that we find any meaning or hope in the statements of Paul that “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor 15:26). The hope of the faith is fixed upon that day when the graves are opened and “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54)

This obviously raises several questions, not the least of which is the implications it has for the restoration of human beings as image bearers. People were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and as image bearers were designed to reflect the glory of God. As a result of sin, all now fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and thus fail to properly fulfill one of the purposes for which we were created. Christ, however, who is the second Adam is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). As believers are conformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) through the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3:18) we are being restored to the fullness of humanity which is a reflection of the glory of the Creator. The biblical promise of physical resurrection in glorified bodies involves the full restoration of humanity as image bearers. Christ, who is the perfection of humanity now has a glorified body (Luke 24:39). It was in this body that He ascended to Heaven (Acts 1:9). At the Last Day when believers are changed into their glorified state our restoration as perfect image bearers will be complete (1 John 3:2).

All of these things connect to a major biblical theme that is directly connected to the hope of the resurrection. Throughout the Bible, and the New Testament in particular, the resurrection is connected to an insistence on holiness and purity. The physical body is important in orthodox theology and is a vessel that God is redeeming and setting apart for His glory. Time and again the apostles conclude from their references to resurrection the importance of living well in this body. Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and are the means through which we glorify God both now and more perfectly in the future.

Both the rewards and punishments of our life in the body will be justly given in the body. As the early Christian writer Athenagoras pointed out over 1,800 years ago,

“… if faults are judged, is the soul dealt fairly with, supposing it alone to pay the penalty for the faults it committed through being solicited by the body and drawn away by it to its own appetites and motions, at one time being seized upon and carried off, at another attracted in some very violent manner, and sometimes concurring with it by way of kindness and attention to its preservation. How can it possibly be other than unjust for the soul to be judged by itself in respect of things towards which in its own nature it feels no appetite, no motion, no impulse, such as licentiousness, violence, covetousness, injustice, and the unjust acts arising out of these?” [1]

We might forgive Athenagoras as being a bit simplistic in his theology if it were not for the very physical emphasis in the teaching of our Lord Himself regarding judgment. Consider the following warnings of Christ,

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

“And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” (Matthew 18:8-9 ESV)

“In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13)

Biblical theology is not merely spiritual. Historically, one of the distinguishing characteristics of Christianity from other religions is a dual emphasis on both the spiritual and the physical. It fends off epicurean and hedonistic tendencies with a profoundly developed spiritual metaphysic, but it likewise pushes back against escapist worldviews that view the physical world as unimportant or illusory. 

Biblical Christianity places a strong emphasis on the goodness of creation and the final redemption of it by God. This is why it is so significant that God does not work out the plan of salvation from the outside-in. Rather than a transcendent salvation, we have an immanent salvation. Amazingly, God determined to redeem His creation from within it!

The doctrine of physical resurrection has profound theological importance on many levels. Although we have only been able to touch on a couple of the more obvious ones in this post I pray it will be food for thought for those who are interested in the topic.




[1] Athenagoras, “On the Resurrection of the Dead,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. B. P. Pratten, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 160.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bodily Resurrection: Part 2b (New Testament Continued)

In the previous post we looked at several explicit references to physical resurrection in the New Testament and I also argued that physical resurrection is assumed in the background of the New Testament as a whole. In that post, however, we did not explore the two most significant and lengthy New Testament passages dealing with the physical nature of the resurrection (Romans 8, & 1 Corinthians 15). That is what we will do today.

Romans 8

Most people do not think of Romans 8 as a major passage dealing with the resurrection but as I have argued in the previous posts, the New Testament concept of resurrection is not merely reanimation. It includes the transformation of our mortal bodies into bodies fit for the Kingdom of God through the process known biblically as glorification. In Romans 5 through 8 Paul is presenting the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. Throughout this section of Romans Paul is discussing the confidence in salvation in light of several realities of life in this current world such as suffering, weakness, and struggles with the flesh. Throughout this section Paul bolsters the assurance of the believer through an appeal to God’s faithfulness and His promises. The entire argument culminates in chapter 8, especially verses 18-30, with the powerful reassurance that God will glorify His saints.

Therefore, this major teaching section of Romans is anchored in God’s faithfulness to a promise that includes the physical resurrection of believers. Recognizing this as a key theme helps to clarify several otherwise curious statements Paul makes throughout this section and especially in the last part of chapter 8. As Dr. Douglas Moo points out, “glory is the overarching theme of this passage.”[1] Notice that the pinnacle of God’s redemptive work is glorification.

Throughout the letter Paul frequently contrasts the flesh and the spirit. In most cases, Paul clearly intends “flesh” to refer not merely to the physical body but to the broader category of the worldly impulses and inclinations of our fallen state. It should not be missed, however, that in doing so he is recognizing the state of our bodies as exemplifying the fallen condition. It is frequently natural passions amplified by the fallen body that give occasion and means for us to express the depravity of our minds. Paul summarizes the depravity of us as whole persons by referring to our “fleshly” state.

Too frequently, readers miss the full significance Paul’s argument and are left with an overly spiritualized understanding. Paul, however, does not ignore the physical. For example, in Romans 8:10-11 Paul makes clear that assurance involves the hope of physical as well as spiritual redemption. Note also that we shall specifically be revealed as sons of God through the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:19) and that Christ Himself, the eternal Son, was declared to be “the Son of God in power” through His own physical resurrection (Rom. 1:4). As believers we will be conformed to the image of the resurrected Christ (Rom. 8:29). Indeed, Paul says that though we have already received the first fruits of the spirit, it is the redemption of our bodies that fully marks our adoption as sons (Rom. 8:23).

Paul ends with those words that have strengthened so many saints through the years,

“28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:28-30)

Paul roots the assurance and hope of the believer in the unbreakable chain of God’s faithfulness. Here we clearly see the sovereign grace of God involved in the salvation of His people. The final product of that salvation is their glorification, their transformation into the image of His Son through their glorious resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15

The longest and clearest passage on the physical resurrection of believers, however, is found in 1 Corinthians 15. Here Paul specifically addresses objections to the idea of physical bodily resurrection. The context is that there were some who were denying the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:12). Paul argues against this objection using a type of reductio ad absurdum argument, showing that his opponents position logically leads to conclusions they themselves would not wish to accept. These people apparently accepted the resurrection of Christ but did not believe in a future resurrection for others.

First, Paul makes it clear that the resurrection of Christ is absolutely central to the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). He then proceeds with a logical argument that assumes the full humanity of Christ by showing that since Christ was raised, one cannot deny human resurrection because to do so would entail also a denial of Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-13). The result of that assertion would be 1) their faith is in vain, 2) Paul and the apostles were lying, 3) the hope of the Gospel is a pitiful hope without power to save (1 Cor. 15:14-18). Paul asserts that Christ is raised, and is the “first fruits”, indicating that others will be as well (15:20) and that through Him comes the resurrection of the dead (15:21). Paul sees the resurrection of Christ and that of believers as tightly interconnected. That one happened is the guarantee of the other. Therefore, to deny the resurrection of believers is to deny something essential about the Gospel.[2]

Paul then presents an argument that explains the current situation of believers who remain in mortal bodies though Christ is already risen. Essentially, verses 22-28 present an explanation of the delay of the Parousia by drawing upon OT prophetic passages.

The typical Jewish understanding of the resurrection was that it was a one-time event at the Last Day associated with judgment of the wicked and the coming of the Kingdom of God. The Apostles, however, argued that Christ’s resurrection inaugurated The Kingdom and the Last Days though the end had not yet come as there were prophesies yet to be fulfilled. As Alexander Stewart points out, Paul’s use of Psalm 110 in this chronology is typical of the way the early Church addressed the apparent delay in Christ’s coming.[3]

Paul then points out several ethical results of the hope of bodily resurrection. Whatever is meant by baptism for the dead, it is clear that it is done in the hope of physical resurrection. Paul himself endures great dangers and refrains from hedonistic pleasures because of his faith in resurrection. It gives him the strength to live radically devoted to his ministry.

In verses 35 through 58, Paul addresses a troublesome philosophical issue. How can physical bodies, which are inherently subject to decay and change, inherit immortality? Paul begins by rebuking them for their imperfect rationalization. They were not subjecting their logic to the revelation of God and thus missing important facts about the resurrected body. He points out that there is both a change and a continuity involved in the resurrection. It is like the relationship of a seed to the plant that springs up. They are the same plant, but do not have all of the same attributes. The “death” of the seed yields life to the plant (35-37). He then explains that there are different types of flesh, each with its own glory. What we now are is not what we shall be (39-42).

Paul then explains that the glorified body is a spiritual body. Paul does not mean by this that it is non-physical. The Greek word πνευματικός (pneumatikos) which is translated “spiritual” in this phrase does not mean immaterial, but rather indicates a body ruled by the spirit. Paul’s point is that our glorified bodies will be ruled by the spirit rather than the flesh. They are characterized by that which is immortal rather than that which passes away. Just as we bore the image of the man of dust (who was cut off from life through sin), so too will we have the image of the man of spirit (whose faithfulness obtained our glory) (43-49).

Paul then concludes in 50-58 by explaining that although our current bodies are unfit for immortality they will be transformed. Paul explains that it is that event that marks the fullness of our redemption (vs. 55). It is at this point that God will have fulfilled His promise and will have completed the redemption of His people for which all of creation is waiting expectantly. Rather than merely providing escape from the fallen creation, God has redeemed it from within. It is a true redemption that includes victory even over physical death itself. Paul encourages the Corinthians with this truth to persevere in their faith and work.

Conclusion

Obviously we could not fully explore either of these two extremely rich passages in a single blog post but both of them clearly demonstrate the importance of physical resurrection to the message of the New Testament. Here and elsewhere, it is the promise and hope of the resurrection that the apostle uses as the cornerstone of his encouragement and assurance. The theological and ethical importance of the doctrine is strikingly on display in both of these passages.






[1] Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), 508.

[2] We will explore the theological reasons for this in the next post. That Paul sees the denial of the resurrection of the saints as connected to the Gospel claim should be obvious by the way he connects the two in his argument.

[3] Alexander E. Stewart, “The Temporary Messianic Kingdom in Second Temple Judaism and the Delay of the Parousia: Psalm 110:1 and the Development of Early Christian Inaugurated Eschatology,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 59/2 (June 2016): 255-70.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bodily Resurrection: Part 2a (New Testament)

As we saw in the previous article, the doctrine of the resurrection of believers is taught in the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul identified it as a promise upon which the hope of the Jews rested as they earnestly worshiped (Acts 26:6-8).[1] The precise nature of the resurrection, however, was not clear and is one of the things made known through the person and work of Christ (2 Tim. 1:10).

Whatever extent the teaching remained in shadows throughout the Old Testament, the doctrine of the resurrection is a clear and central theme in the New. In fact, the author to the Hebrews lists the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead as one of the elementary and foundational doctrines of Christ (Heb. 6:1-2). It is therefore something all Christians must understand and believe. In the next two posts I hope to show that this New Testament resurrection is undoubtedly a physical bodily resurrection.

Clear Statements Regarding Physical Resurrection:

The teachers who prompted this series of articles accept that resurrection is a central claim of the New Testament but they spiritualize it and deny its physical nature. The New Testament, however, repeatedly makes the explicit claim that the resurrection is physical and bodily in nature.

Paul speaks of the hope of salvation to include the redemption of our bodies in addition to the spiritual blessings we already have when he says, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved...” (Rom. 8:23-24)

Paul has already explained that the power of God displayed in the raising of Christ is the same power through which our bodies will be raised. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

In the longest and most important passage on resurrection Paul emphatically defends bodily resurrection, even addressing the question, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Cor. 15:35). The Corinthians, influenced by Greek philosophy, could not understand how material bodies could possibly inherit immortality. Paul explains that the resurrection is not merely a reanimation of corpses but that a change takes place that makes our bodies fit for glory. Although these new bodies are spiritual, they are still bodies. Paul says, “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.” (1 Cor. 15:42). Notice, that which is raised is that which was perishable, namely our bodies.[2]

Paul also affirms the physical nature of our resurrected bodies elsewhere, explaining we will be like Christ. “… we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21). The Apostle John says the same thing more succinctly when he says “We know that when He appears we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).

As Murray Harris has said, “In distinctive New Testament usage, resurrection signifies not [only] the reanimation of corpses but the transformation of the whole person into the image of Christ by the power of the indwelling Spirit, in spite of the intervention of death.”[3] Our lowly bodies will not be discarded but will instead be transformed to be like Christ’s.

Christ’s resurrection body was a physical body (Luke 24:39) and although it was changed, it was the same body He previously had as is demonstrated by the empty tomb as well as the wounds in His hands and side (John 20:27). He ate food, had conversations, and was even mistaken for other people.

Jesus also affirms the physical nature of the resurrection when He says, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29). The emptying of tombs requires the reanimation of the physical body and cannot be a spiritual resurrection.

Preterists often claim Paul’s condemnation of those who denied the resurrection does not apply to them because he wrote before what they think was the resurrection event in A.D. 70. What is clear, however, is that the emptying of the tombs of the righteous and wicked did not happen in A.D. 70. If this day is yet future, then not all prophesy has been fulfilled and preterism cannot be correct.[4]

Resurrection as a Defined Term:

As we have seen, there are several passages that clearly assert that our physical bodies will be redeemed in addition to the spiritual blessings we already possess as believers (Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:5).[5] Support for bodily resurrection, however, is founded on even more than the verses explicitly mentioning our bodies. In fact, all of the New Testament references to resurrection entail a physical bodily event. As good students we must take the time to see how the New Testament authors define the terms they use. When Paul, Jesus, John, etc. use a term like resurrection we must ask what exactly they meant.

There are no examples in the New Testament where resurrection language is used only of the spirit of a person. In fact, scholars who have studied the Jewish literature of the Second Temple period have concluded that 1st Century Judaism did not have the concept of resurrection without a body.[6] Although Jewish views of the afterlife were diverse and complex, scholar N.T. Wright asserts “if a first-century Jew said that someone had been “raised from the dead,” the one thing they did not mean was that such a person had gone to a state of disembodied bliss…”[7]

The New Testament contains many references to resurrection including over 40 uses of the specific term ἀνάστασις. These references were all understood in their Jewish contexts to involve the raising of the body. When Jesus, Paul and others use the general term resurrection they mean a physical bodily resurrection. Indeed, it was confusion about this Jewish concept in the Greek Church at Corinth that prompted Paul’s extended explanation of the doctrines of resurrection and glorification in 1 Corinthians 15, which I plan to deal with in detail in the next article.

Immortality as a Defined Term:

Likewise, terms related to immortality in the Bible do not carry the Platonic ideas that so strongly influence our current cultural views. These days most people think of immortality as a characteristic of the soul or spirit that is eternal or continues after death. This, however, is not the New Testament view.

There are 3 words in the New Testament that are used to refer to immortality. These terms are never used of the soul or spirit of human beings. They are only applied to entire human beings in relation to the future state of believers. Only God Himself is immortal (1 Tim. 6:16). Human beings gain immortality when they become partakers of the divine nature though their union with Christ and are glorified through the power of God (Rom. 8:30, 38).

Biblical immortality is not the continuation of the spirit after death or into eternity. All human souls will persist after this life, some to glory and some to judgment. Human immortality in the biblical sense is deliverance from the suffering and decay of the flesh and the torment of the Second Death. This is accomplished in our final glorified state. There is never any mention in the Bible of an immortal or glorified human spirit. Biblically, human immortality is directly connected to the hope of the bodily resurrection.

We even see this in various subtle ways. For example, believers who have passed away are often said to be asleep (1 Cor. 15:51; Eph. 5:14). To sleep implies an awakening. The image seems clearly to indicate it is the body rather than the soul primarily in view (2 Cor. 5:1-9). Likewise, we are said to be clothed in our bodies and are longing not to be unclothed (no body) but that we would be further clothed (glorified body), “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Cor. 5:4)

Conclusion:

There is much more that could be said regarding the New Testament teaching on this issue but this article is already too long. I pray that it is at least clear that there are several New Testament verses that explicitly teach a physical bodily resurrection. Beyond that, the New Testament concept of resurrection itself entails a physical aspect. Finally, the Biblical concept of immortality is always developed in coordination with the glorification of the body. Having laid this foundation, I plan to focus on Paul’s extended teaching on resurrection in 1 Corinthians in the next article.

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[1] Having been most clearly developed in the Prophets, the resurrection was denied by those, like the Sadducees, who did not accept the writings of the prophets as Scripture.

[2] I will deal extensively with Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 15 in the next article.

[3] Murray Harris, “Resurrection and Immortality: Eight Theses,” Themelios 1, no. 2 (1976): 51.

[4] Russell acknowledges that the reference in John must refer to a literal resurrection. Even in placing the events fully within a Palestinian context, however, he fails to make any adequate case to account for the scope of Christ’s words. Essentially, his position is that almost nothing is known about the events taking place for 60 to 80 years after the end of Acts and so a lot of stuff could have happened. The quotes he uses to support this view are referring to specific knowledge of historical development within the Christian community. It is not true that we have no historical records from that time. One would expect to find references in Greek, Roman, Jewish, or other sources if there was a massive emptying of graves associated with the Roman occupation in Jerusalem. Nothing of the sort is mentioned.

[5] Notice that Ephesians 1:3 establishes that we have every spiritual blessing, yet verses 13-14 indicate that the Holy Spirit is a down payment on us receiving the fullness of our inheritance which we have yet to possess. The full inheritance is the completion of our redemption in glorification.

[6] N.T. Wright, “Resurrection of the Son of God”, especially chapters 3–4.

[7] N.T. Wright, Christian Origins and the Resurrection of Jesus: The Resurrection of Jesus as a Historical Problem.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bodily Resurrection: Part 1 (Old Testament)

Among the central tenants of orthodox Christianity is the hope of the physical bodily resurrection of believers. The blessed hope that we shall be brought back from the dead as whole persons is a theme that weaves its way throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Unlike the idea which became particularly popular in ancient Greece, where life after death was a spiritual existence freed from the prison of a physical body, the Bible presents the separation of the body and the soul as an unnatural condition brought on by sin and death. The defeat of sin and death in Christ therefore ultimately involves the redemption of both our bodies and our souls. This is a foundational doctrine of the Christian faith.

I recently became aware that certain Bible study groups in my area, having come under the influence of a type of full-preterism, have been questioning if the resurrection will be physical. As I understand it, they believe Paul’s comment, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (1 Cor. 15:50) implies a denial that the resurrection is physical. In this series of posts, I would like to show that the Bible teaches physical resurrection. In this post, I would like to show that the hope of the physical resurrection can be found in the Old Testament. In Part 2 I will show that the New Testament clearly teaches a physical resurrection. In Part 3 I will explore the theological significance of this truth for the Christian faith.

The Hope of Physical Resurrection in the Old Testament:

The teaching of a physical resurrection is found in the Old Testament although not nearly as clearly as in the New Testament. Indeed, it was a topic of debate among Jews at the time of Christ (Acts 23:8). However, it was apparently not something so difficult to see that only scholars embraced it. For example, Lazarus’ sister Martha expressed her hope, presumably derived from her understanding of the Old Testament, in a future resurrection (Jn. 11:24).

In any case, the apostle Paul makes it clear that the Old Testament without question teaches a twofold doctrine of the resurrection. When he is before Felix at Caesarea Paul says, “…I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” (Acts 24:14-15). Jesus also confirms that resurrection is an Old Testament teaching in his dispute with the Sadducees (Mt. 22:31-32).

I should point out here that the 1st Century debate within Judaism was regarding a physical bodily resurrection. These statements by Jesus and Paul must be understood within the context of that doctrinal debate. This alone is sufficient to settle the question regarding the teaching of the Old Testament on the matter. They also have interpretive significance for us because they indicate conclusively that we should expect to find Old Testament passages that address the question.

Implied Old Testament References:

There are a number of Old Testament texts that are at least pointers toward resurrection such as Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. As Abraham is preparing to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God, he says to his men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” (Gen. 22:5). The author of Hebrews explains, “He considered that God was able even to raise him [Isaac] from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”  

There are other possible types and figures such as Joseph, etc. in the Old Testament as well as three people who actually were physically brought back from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:35, 13:21).

Of course, these texts are not conclusive. Abraham’s circumstances are unique and these other people died again. None of these definitively demonstrates a future hope of bodily resurrection. They do, however, establish a certain pattern that is consistent throughout the Bible. God’s power is frequently demonstrated through the raising of the dead. These signs generally accompany further revelation about God’s redemptive purposes and it is not altogether unfounded to see them as closely connected.

Beyond these, there are many Old Testament texts that contextually imply a hope in a physical resurrection even if they do not directly state it. The Bible commonly uses words in resurrection contexts such as awake, live, rise, to stand up, etc. For example, when David says, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”  (Psalm 17:15) his phrase “when I awake” is best understood as a reference to his confidence that this promise will be fulfilled after his death, that is in the resurrection. Most of the Old Testament texts related to resurrection are of this type. They do not directly spell out the hope of the resurrection but rather assume it. Thankfully, there are a few Old Testament passages that more clearly indicate a hope in a physical resurrection.

Clear Old Testament References:

Job, for example, expresses his confidence that in the end he will see his redeemer in the flesh, even should he die when he says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God…” (Job 19:25-26 ESV)

Likewise, Isaiah includes physical resurrection as part of the hope of the deliverance of the Lord, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!          For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.” (Isaiah 26:19 ESV)

The prophet Daniel also discusses physical resurrection as part of the events associated with the time of the end, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2 ESV)

Conclusion:

When we combine these prophesies with the implied texts and the general connection between the imagery of redemption and resurrection (like we see in places like Ezekiel 37 etc.) we can better understand Martha’s confidence. If we look carefully, in the Old Testament we see a glimpse of the hope of physical resurrection which becomes far more explicit in the New Testament. This combined with the confirmation of Paul and Christ assures us that this is a doctrine found in both Testaments. Paul tells us that it is through the coming of Christ and the Gospel that light has been shed on immortality (2 Tim. 1:10). I hope to show in Part 2 that this doctrine which is revealed dimly in the Old Testament is undeniably bright and clear in the New Testament.