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The chaplain at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, himself United Methodist, has a superb blog critiquing ostensibly Christian thinkers who dogmatically reject the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here’s what Rev. Stephen Rankin says:
But there’s one group I admit I’ve grown weary of: Christian resurrection-deniers. Not resurrection deniers in general, but those who claim to follow Jesus, who blithely assert that thinking people simply cannot believe the hocus pocus about Jesus rising bodily from the dead. If resurrection means anything, so this line of thinking goes, it can only have metaphorical/symbolic significance.
Let me narrow my charge a little more. A Christian struggling intellectually with belief in Jesus’ bodily resurrection, who honestly wants to know the truth and pursues it with transparent intensity and a willingness to learn; for this kind of Christian I have utmost respect. After all, one of the major characteristics of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection is how Jesus’ own followers doubted! But the easy, breezy, smooth-talking, read-the-latest-John Spong-Marcus Borg-Dominic Crossan-and-now-we-know-what-really-happened Christian, tries my patience mightily. A Christian who confidently denies the resurrection is an oxymoron.
Kudos to Rev. Rankin, with whom, years ago, I believe I served on the board of Good News, the United Methodist evangelical renewal group. The chaplaincies at United Methodist schools are not always renowned for affirming orthodoxy. I suspect that he uniquely combines strong intellect committed to Wesleyan beliefs with an effective pastoral sensibility. May God keep blessing his ministry. Here’s his blog.
Meanwhile, the scoffers Rev. Rankin cites have been busy among Virginia Episcopalians of late. Jesus Seminar teacher John Dominic Crossan taught at a recent Virginia Episcopal Diocese Lenten event about which IRD’s Jeff Walton reported. Of course Crossan explained how the resurrection was not bodily but symbolized political uprising. And on Good Friday Jeff was with retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong at historic St Paul’s Church in Richmond, where Spong dismissed the core meaning of Easter, touting a “non-literal” version. Virginia Bishop Shannon Johnston, who claims to be a “creedal” Christian, was also there.